The San Francisco Library Commission voted Thursday, Nov. 4 to add the name of esteemed Chinese American scholar and historian Him Mark Lai to the Chinatown Branch Library. The library will officially be known as the Chinatown/Him Mark Lai Branch Library.
It is the policy of the San Francisco Public Library Commission that naming a library facility is reserved for the rare individual whose dedication and service to SFPL is extraordinary, unique and of the highest quality. San Francisco Public Library undertook a survey of the Chinatown community at the branch library before committing to the naming proposal. There were 517 questionnaires returned in favor of naming the branch for Him Mark Lai, 79 against, and 57 with no opinion.
“The Commission’s action recognizes how important Him Mark Lai was as a treasured resource for his community and for all who seek to learn more about and better understand the Chinese American experience,” said Commission President Jewelle Gomez. “We appreciated the effort put forth by the Chinatown community to propose this naming proposal for the Library and for ensuring this remarkable historian is remembered throughout San Francisco.”
Him Mark Lai, who passed away in 2009, was an internationally renowned Chinese American historian who compiled an extensive research collection on the experiences of Chinese in America including their districts of origin in Guangdong Province, their detention at Angel Island Immigration Station, the development of community organizations and newspapers and the political left. His groundbreaking writings—10 books and more than 100 articles—are models of scholarship. His commitment to his bicultural heritage, democratic principles, passion for history, and generous spirit are an enduring inspiration to future generations.
The Chinatown Branch Library is located at 1135 Powell St., (near Jackson Street).