News Release - January 25, 2008

For Immediate Release: January 25, 2008

Contact: Sherri Eng (415) 557-4282

Bernal Heights Branch Closing for Renovation Feb. 9

The Bernal Heights Branch Library, located at 500 Cortland Ave., will close for renovation on Feb. 9. The branch will host a celebratory closing party at 1 p.m. that day. Fun, food and entertainment will be provided.

Renovation highlights include a new expanded children's room on the lower level and a designated teen area on the main floor. The renovations will also include an elevator and accessible restrooms, making the branch fully accessible to all. There will be an increased book and materials collection, wireless access to the Internet, improved lighting, heating and ventilation, access from the playground to the children's area, new furniture, and a variety of seating choices. The building's original architecture will be maintained and many historic features restored.

The project will cost about $5.7 million and is scheduled for completion in early 2010. The project is being designed by the San Francisco Bureau of Architecture's Library Design Studio and is managed by the Department of Public Works.

The Bernal renovation is part of a major capital improvement project-the largest in San Francisco Public Library history-backed by voters who passed a $106 million bond measure in November 2000. Currently, there are four other branch libraries under construction-Western Addition (reopening Feb. 2), Noe Valley (reopening March 8), Richmond and Portola. The Branch Library Improvement Program calls for the renovation of 17 branch libraries and the construction of seven new library buildings. So far, the renovated Excelsior, West Portal, Sunset, Marina branches have reopened, and the Glen Park Branch has moved into a new building. The construction of the brand-new Mission Bay Branch, opened on July 8, 2006, was also part of this building campaign.

While the Bernal Heights Branch is under construction, the Library will provide the following temporary services starting a few weeks after the closing:

  • Bookmobile service on Holly Park Circle in front of Junipero Serra Elementary School. Hours of operation: Mondays and Thursdays from 2-5 p.m.
  • Weekly Lapsit Storytime (ages 0-3) at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays; preschool Storytime (ages 3-5) at 10 a.m. on Thursdays. Both will be held at Red Hill Books located at 401 Cortland Ave.
  • Hold materials not picked up by the branch closing date will be routed to the Excelsior Branch Library. Patrons can designate an alternate pickup location through the Library's Web site, or make the request at the service desk of any branch.

Please call (415) 557-4353 for information on temporary library services during the Bernal Branch's closure; (415) 557-4343 for information on the Bookmobile; or visit the Library's Web site at

History of the Bernal Heights Branch

A Bernal Heights "library deposit station" was established in 1920 at 303 Cortland Ave. It was moved to a number of other locations as the neighborhood grew. A library was opened in 1936 in a building at 324 Cortland. When this space proved inadequate, the community lobbied for a new building.

The present-day Bernal Heights Branch Library at 500 Cortland Avenue was dedicated on October 21, 1940, becoming the 21st branch established in the San Francisco Public Library system. Designed by Frederick Myers, the project was funded by the Work Projects Administration, a federal program to provide jobs during the Great Depression. The cost of the land was $4,200 and the building cost was $90,400. The interior of the branch features much original decoration, including high, painted ceilings and hanging metal lamps.

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