New North Beach Library Now Open

May 10, 2014

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Jeffers
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New North Beach Library Now Open

24th Branch Completes Branch Library Renewal Program

San Francisco – The new North Beach Branch Library opened on May 10 to great community fanfare, following a ribbon cutting ceremony and traditional lion dance, performed by the Jing Mo Athletic Association. North Beach is the 24th and final branch library to be built or remodeled through the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP), a $105.9 million bond measure approved by voters in 2000.

The new North Beach Branch is located at 850 Columbus at the corner of Columbus and Lombard. The building, which features two stories with double height reading rooms, was designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects of San Francisco to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification or greater from the U.S. Green Building Council. The project, which was first initiated in 2003, was managed by the Department of Public Works.

Mayor Ed Lee cut the ribbon to open the new library, accompanied by Supervisors David Chiu and Scott Weiner, City Librarian Luis Herrera, State Senator Mark Leno, Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, Recreation and Parks Manager Phil Ginsburg, Library Commission President Teresa Ono, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), Friends of the Library Executive Director Scott Staub, community leader Julie Christensen and branch manager Robert Carlson.

Entertainment for the opening celebration was provided by North Beach neighborhood groups including Mal Sharpe’s Big Money in Jazz, Salesian Club Theatre of the Salesian Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and The Rabbit Hole and FOGG Theatre Youth Conservatory.

Mayor Lee praised the new building and the positive benefits for the North Beach community, including the creation of construction jobs, a place for children, teens and adults to gather, and the collaborative nature of the project. The new library was part of a collaboration and master plan with the Recreation and Park Department’s Joe DiMaggio playground, which is currently being renovated as part of the 2012 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond. That project is anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2015.


City Librarian Luis Herrera noted the significance of the new library to the community of North Beach. “In the legacy of the poets and writers of North Beach, including Poet Laureate Emeritus Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was unable to be with us today, we invite the community to join us at this special place, your library, to read, to study, to write and to dream.”


The 8,500 square-foot, two-story building includes a community room with after-hours access for neighborhood meetings; a larger children’s area and new teen space; additional public computers; new furniture and equipment; and an expanded collection of books, DVDs, and CDs, including more materials in multiple languages to meet the community’s needs. The library is 60% larger than the former branch.

Among the environmentally conscious features of the new Library are an 11.5 kW solar array provided by the SFPUC which will help to power the building, and 11,350 square feet of insulation made from recycled denim, equating to approximately 4,500 pairs of jeans that live inside the Library’s walls. The denim insulation, provided by a grant from Levi Strauss & Co., is safer than traditional fiberglass and delivers maximum thermal benefits, reducing the amount of energy used to heat and cool the building.

The total budget for the project was $14.5 million, with additional funding provided by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, which paid for furniture and equipment in the new facility.

The North Beach library has a unique public art feature – a sound sculpture around the exterior perimeter of the building, through which the sounds of North Beach are broadcast through waterproof speakers. Sonic Dreamscape, created by world renowned sound artist Bill Fontana, features characteristic neighborhood sounds, from poetry readings, cafés, markets, sea lions, playgrounds, foghorns and more. This extraordinary piece was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

The new library will feature longer hours than the previous branch, and will be open six days a week. The increased hours are part of an increase in days of service and open hours at libraries throughout the city.

Prior to 2000, the Chinatown and Mission branch libraries were remodeled and a new Ocean View Branch was built. With the conclusion of the BLIP, all San Francisco Public Libraries are seismically safe and accessible to people with disabilities.