Monthly Archives: August 2012

One City One Book 2012

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

Aug. 27, 2012

San Francisco Public Library’s One City One Book 2012:

A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit

Kick-off Event – Party Like It’s 1906 – Sept. 7, 2012

This fall, the San Francisco Public Library is exploring local author Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster for our California Reads/One City One Book 2012 program.

Rebecca SolnitTo kick off the season, join the Library and The Green Arcade at the McRoskey Mattress Company (1687 Market St.) for a One City One Book launch party and celebration, Party Like It’s 1906, on Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. The event will feature music from the acclaimed Tammy Hall Trio, 1906-inspired bites (think oysters, sourdough bread and beer) and a talk by Rebecca Solnit, the author of 13 books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory.

Book coverIn 2012, as part of the 8th annual citywide book club program, the Library is participating in California Reads, a statewide reading and discussion program created by Cal Humanities in partnership with the California Center for the Book and supported by the California State Library. California Reads encourages Californians from all walks of life to participate in reading and discussion programs and related activities around the theme of democracy in 2012. San Francisco selected A Paradise Built in Hell because of its strong connection to the city and its exploration of the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake.

A Paradise Built in Hell explores our need for community and common purpose, which Solnit argues are fundamental to democratic forms of social and political life. Blending reportage and analysis, the book surveys natural and man-made disasters including the ’06 earthquake, the Halifax explosion of 1917, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, the Sept. 11th attacks, and Hurricane Katrina.  Solnit takes a positive view of human behavior showing that disasters can actually create a sense of community and purposefulness. A community’s typical response to catastrophe is self-organization and mutual aid–truly democracy in action–with neighbors and strangers rescuing, feeding and housing each other.

From September through November, the Library will be offering a number of discussion groups, films, preparedness workshops and more events on the theme of the book, including an Oct.11 event at the Main Library, during which Solnit will be in conversation with San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

Visit for more information about programs, book club discussion questions and more, and start reading the book now.

2012 Voter Empowerment Series

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

August 23, 2012

2012 Voter Empowerment Series

Presented by the San Francisco Public Library’s African American Interest Committee

President Barack Obama: Accomplishments, Criticism, Commentary

This panel discussion, moderated by former CBS/KPIX News Anchor Barbara Rodgers, will feature San Francisco District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, author and media specialist J.R. Valrey, San Francisco State University Political Science Professor Robert C. Smith, London Breed, director of the African American Arts & Culture Complex, and a member of the Black Young Democrats Club of San Francisco. The candid and enlightening discussion will focus on President Obama’s first term in office, his relationship with Congress, the challenges of racism while in office and other key issues that President Obama has faced during his tenure. The discussion will be followed by a question and answer session. Voter regis­tration will be available beginning at 12 p.m. with the panel discussion beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 23, 2012, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, Lower Level, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, 1:30-4:30 p.m.


Films of a Movement

A screening of three films that highlight politics, history and the African American experience.

  • Freedom on My Mind (1994; 105 min.) 11:30 a.m.

Nominated for an Academy Award, winner of both the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians awards for best documentary, this landmark film tells the story of the Mississippi freedom movement in the early 1960s when a handful of young activists changed history.

  • Chisolm ‘72: Unbought and Unbossed (2004; 76 min.)  1:30 p.m.

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm becomes the first black woman elected to Congress. In 1972, she became the first black woman to run for president. Shunned by the political establishment, she was supported by a motley crew of blacks, feminists, and young voters. Their campaign-trail adventures were frenzied, fierce and fundamentally right on.

  • By The People: The Election of Barack Obama (2009; 116 min.)  3 p.m.

Millions saw history made as Barack Obama took the podium on election night. But few witnessed his unguarded moments in the hours and days before he greeted the nation. This documentary includes never-before-seen footage of Obama behind the scenes, as well as interviews and candid moments with his family, senior campaign staff, volunteers, reporters, supporters and even opponents.

Sept. 29, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, Lower Level, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Exhibit: November 4, 2008 Voting Series

A series of 15 gouache paintings by Santa Cruz artist Myra Eastman narrates the nation’s collective awakening during the Nov. 4, 2008 election. Eastman said: “People woke up and moved by the possibilities, they took action. People voted and polling sites became symbols of renewal.”
On view through Nov. 8, 2012, Main Library, Fifth Floor, Government Information Center, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco

Born Among Mirrors

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

August 22, 2012

Born Among Mirrors: Lebanon 50 Years After

Documentary Photographs from Lebanon on View
at San Francisco Main Library

Photo of Children Photographer Najib Joe Hakim turned his camera lens on his birthplace, Beirut, Lebanon, a country he hadn’t visited in 30 years. When he documents in his photographs is a poignant exploration of a people and a place, determined to exist, despite the wars and unrest that have ravaged Lebanon. The San Francisco Public Library is pleased to present the exhibition, Born Among Mirrors: Lebanon 50 Years After, which will be on view August 25 through Nov. 4, in the Main Library’s Jewett Gallery, 100 Larkin St., Lower Level, San Francisco.

In October 2006 Najib Joe Hakim visited his birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon. Three months had passed since the latest war with Israel had destroyed much of the country.  Hakim didn’t go to document the destruction: those images had made the nightly news ten times over. Instead, he went looking for what persisted in the land where he was born. Fifty years had passed since Hakim’s family left Lebanon for America, his parents as refugees from Palestine, he and his brother as babes-in-arms. Thirty years had passed since his last visit.  In that time, Lebanon had suffered a long civil war, several Israeli invasions, Syrian and Israeli occupation, rebuilding and re-destroying.

As the photographs illustrate, Hakim encountered what seemingly cannot be destroyed: the character of a resilient people who defied their savage and surreal world as they picked up the pieces, built devotional altars to their gods and heroes, and went about their routines—every cup of coffee enjoyed, every candle lit, every cigarette smoked, an affirmation of their will to survive. Like fishermen daily repairing their nets, the Lebanese were already rebuilding—yet again. Hakim found their undiminished resolve inspiring.

In honor of the exhibition, the Library will be hosting a gallery tour with Hakim on Sept. 19 and an Arab American literature event on Oct. 30. The exhibit and programs are co-sponsored by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, the Arab American Heritage Festival and the Arab Cultural and Community Center.

Related Programs:

Meet the Artist: Najib Joe HakimSept. 19, 6 p.m. Talk and Gallery Tour, San Francisco Main Library, Jewett Gallery, Lower Level, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco.

Arab American Literature – Oct. 30, 6:30 p.m., Palestine-American author Soha Al-Jurf discusses her book Even My Voice is Silence.  Main Library, Lower  Level, Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco