Chinatown/ Him Mark Lai Branch Library Rededication

Branch Library Ceremony for Chinese Scholar and Historian Saturday, December 10, 2011

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

November 18, 2011

Chinatown/ Him Mark Lai Branch Library Rededication

Branch Library Ceremony for Chinese Scholar and Historian Saturday, December 10, 2011

The San Francisco Public Library will hold a rededication ceremony on December 10, to mark the renaming of the Chinatown Branch Library for local historian and scholar Him Mark Lai.

The rededication will be presided over by City Librarian Luis Herrera and Germaine Wong on behalf of the Him Mark Lai Library Committee. Mayor Edwin Lee and District 3 Supervisor David Chiu have been invited to speak. The rededication event begins at 12 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, at the Chinatown/ Him Mark Lai Branch Library, 1135 Powell St., (near Jackson Street).

The ceremony will include a lion dance performance and the unveiling of four new library plaques to mark the rededication and honor Him Mark Lai’s legacy of scholarship.

The rededication was undertaken by the Him Mark Lai Library Committee, which consisted of friends, colleagues, and community activists who formed soon after Him Mark Lai passed away in 2009, to work on getting the Chinatown Branch Library (his childhood library) renamed in recognition of his lifetime service to the library and the community through his prodigious scholarship.  Their one-year effort to mobilize community support, send letters, and sign petitions resulted in a unanimous vote by the Library Commission to approve the proposal on Nov. 4, 2010.

One year later, four bilingual plaques renaming the Chinatown/Him Mark Lai Branch Library will be unveiled at the rededication ceremony.  The two outdoor plaques were designed by Andrew Maloney of the San Francisco Bureau of Architecture; two indoor biographical plaques were designed by Mark Ong of Side by Side Studios. The plaques were funded through donations to Friends of Roots and 50 other community organizations and individuals. The “In Search of Roots” program was co-founded by Albert Cheng and Him Mark Lai in 1991 to encourage Chinese American youths to learn about their family history and cultural heritage. Find out more at

In addition to the rededication, copies of the newly published, posthumous autobiography, Him Mark Lai: Autobiography of a Chinese American Historian (UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Chinese Historical Society of America, 2011) edited by Judy Yung with Ruthanne Lum McCunn and Russell C. Leong, will be available for sale. Free copies of the following Chinese autobiographical essay by Him Mark Lai will be offered at the rededication and during open hours of the Chinatown/Him Mark Lai Branch Library and the Chinese Historical Society of America: Meiji Huaren xuezhe Mai Liqian zizhuan 美籍華人學者麥禮謙自傳 [Autobiography of the Chinese American scholar Him Mark Lai], Haiwai Huaren shehui kexuejia zhuanji 海外華人社會科學家傳記 [Biographies of social scientists among Chinese abroad], ed. Zhu Jieqin 朱杰勤. Guangzhou: Guangdong renmin chubanshe 廣東人民出版社, 165-192.

There also will be a preview of Felicia Lowe’s work-in-progress documentary, Barefoot Historian, which tells the story of Him Mark Lai and the particulars of documenting an excluded and marginalized group. On display will be books from the Him Mark Lai Collection.  All Him Mark Lai’s books and major articles on Chinese American history were donated by his wife Laura Lai to the Library.

Him Mark Lai 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.

A more complete biography of Him Mark Lai is available upon request.

Take our survey