SFPL Awarded $9.7 Million for Branch Library Constructi

Heartfelt testimony from supporters of library construction projects from around the State was heard by the California Public Library Construction & Renovation Board on November 30 in Sacramento. By day’s end, the Board awarded $9.7 million in state matching grants for library construction to the San Francisco Public Library. The funds will be used to renovate and expand the Richmond Branch Library ($5.95) and to build a new Ingleside Branch Library ($3.75), augmenting funding from a city bond for library renovations approved by voters in 2000. Twelve projects from a total of 72 applications were awarded funding in this highly competitive process.

Both the Richmond and Ingleside Branch Library proposals received the highest available ranking of "Outstanding." With a total cost of $212 million for twenty projects which were ranked Outstanding, the Board had only $80 million to award in this final cycle of funding. Acting City Librarian Paul Underwood stated, "It’s truly extraordinary to bring home nearly $10 million for San Francisco. Thanks go to many staff, community members, legislators and other City departments that helped us win this funding." The Richmond Branch, which was built in 1914, was the only Carnegie library funded from the state bond program. The branch, which serves an extremely diverse community, is critically in need of seismic strengthening as well as expansion to meet user's needs. Community supporter Camille She spoke about her family's affection for the branch, which just celebrated its 90th anniversary, and noted that she looks forward to it serving her community for another 90 years.

Ingleside Branch will serve as the hub in the commercial corridor along Ocean View Avenue, noted supporter Chris Leishman. She was joined in her enthusiasm by Bette Landis, who spoke of the underserved and diverse community who use the branch. The new Ingleside Branch will replace a rented bank building currently housing library services. Landis, She and Leishman were among many San Francisco library supporters who made the trip to Sacramento for the hearing.

Over the past few months Friends of the San Francisco Public Library sponsored a grassroots community effort to help promote each of San Francisco's five applications. The effort included community members sending over 300 children's essays, thousands of postcards, hundreds of letters of support, and countless emails to the Library Bond Board members to help convince them of the great need for this funding in San Francisco. San Francisco supported the State Bond measure Proposition 14 at a 75% approval rating, the highest rating of any county in the state. "It is most gratifying to see the many worthy projects that have received funding throughout the life of the bond as a result of this initiative," added Deborah Doyle, Interim Executive Director of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. "At the same time, as a library advocate, it is heartbreaking to know how much need still remains for libraries throughout the State." A new state library construction and renovation bond has been approved to go before California voters in June 2006. For more information about the Branch Library Improvement Program office, please call 415 557-4354 or e-mail blip@sfpl.org.
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