News Release - January 12, 2010

Restored Bernal Heights Branch Library Reopens Jan. 30

For Immediate Release: January 12, 2010
Contacts: Michelle Jeffers

(415) 557-4282

Restored Bernal Heights Branch Library Reopens Jan. 30

Library renovation includes a new expanded Children’s Room on the lower level and beautiful restoration of WPA-era building. San Francisco Public Library will celebrate the reopening of a neighborhood treasure, the newly renovated Bernal Heights Branch Library, on Saturday, Jan. 30. Located at 500 Cortland Ave., near Moultrie Street, the Bernal Heights renovation is the 13th completed project in the City’s Branch Library Improvement Program. The grand reopening celebration will kick off with Chinese lion dancers and an Aztec blessing inside the renovated branch. Festivities begin at 1 p.m. Library services will start at 2 p.m. A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned with Mayor Gavin Newsom, City Librarian Luis Herrera, Supervisor David Campos, Department of Public Works Director Ed Reiskin and other city and state officials. “We are eager to reopen the doors to the Bernal Heights Branch Library and invite the residents back in to this neighborhood landmark,” said City Librarian Luis Herrrera. “The renovation has painstakingly preserved the wonderful features of this lovely and historic branch while the updating has created a space that offers new technology, flexible uses for this diverse community and a seismically safer structure that can be enjoyed for generations to come.” The thoughtful renovation of the branch included an extensive refurbishment of the basement, creating a sizeable dedicated Children’s Room with easy access from the neighboring Bernal Heights playground. A spacious community meeting room that can accommodate Library classes, programs and after-hours activities, staff rooms and fully accessible public restrooms complete the lower level. Upstairs, the main portion of the library retains its beautiful heritage from 1940 with the original hand painted stencils decorating the ceiling and the original ornate hanging light fixtures casting a warm glow throughout the rooms. Wood veneers were refinished to carefully match the original woodwork inside the branch. The newly installed Beaux Arts staircase dovetails seamlessly into the building while new flooring fully unites the space. The renovation was designed by the Library Design Studio in the City’s Bureau of Architecture in the Department of Public Works “Just as the WPA (Works Progress Administration) provided much needed jobs for public works projects in Bernal Heights and across San Francisco in the late 1930s, the Branch Library Improvement Program today is providing work for architects, contractors, trades people, and laborers to rebuild our libraries across the city, which is all the more important in these challenging times,” said Ed Reiskin, Director of the Department of Public Works. Bernal Heights is the 13th library project to be completed under the Branch Library Improvement Program, which is funded by a $105.9 million bond measure passed by voters in November 2000. The program is supporting the renovation of16 branch libraries and the construction of eight new library buildings around the City. Project costs for the Bernal Heights Branch Library totaled about $5.7 million. Over the past two years, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library has been working in partnership with neighborhood residents and communities to raise funds, awareness and support for the branch improvements. Friends, together with the Bernal Heights Library Campaign Committee, will contribute approximately $500,000 towards the branch renovations to pay for furnishings, fixtures and equipment—expenses not covered by the bond. For more information on how to support the Bernal Heights Library Campaign, please contact Marian Chatfield-Taylor at For more information about the Bernal Heights Branch Library’s opening celebration, please call (415) 557-4277, or visit

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