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Sneak peek at remodeled Anza Branch Library; re-opening celebration June 18

The Anza Branch Library at 550 37th Avenue. It officially reopens on June 18, 2011.

It’s been 2 years in the making, but the Richmond District now has both of its libraries back in operation. And they’re looking better than ever.

On Thursday night, the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library held a reception to show off the newly remodeled Anza Branch Library which boasts seismic upgrades, improved seating, technology upgrades and an addition to the building that makes it a fully accessible facility.

Tucked discreetly between residences on the 500 block of 37th Avenue, the Anza Branch is a true neighborhood library. Unlike the grand style of the Richmond branch on 9th Avenue, the Anza location is more cozy, subtly fitting in with its surroundings thanks to a mission style architecture and stucco exterior.

The library was originally designed by architect John Reid Jr. and opened in 1932. It had just over 11,000 books on its shelves and the total cost for the building and its contents was $57,117. It was the 17th branch to open in the San Francisco Library system and it is now the 19th library project to be completed under the Branch Library Improvement Program, which allows for the renovation of 16 branch libraries and the construction of eight new library buildings around the City.

While the branch received many upgrades including a sizable addition to the rear of the building, it still retains the same charm of its original structure despite its move into a greener, 21st century. All the improvements were designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification or greater by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Lawns have been re-sodded in the front of the building, and a new accessible entrance has been added on the downhill side. The door leads to a long ramp that provides access to the rear of the building, where there’s an elevator as well as stairs up to the main floor. On the way to the back entrance, there’s a nice round patio area complete with fresh landscaping that includes fragrant lavender plants.

Looking at the rear of the library where there is a circular patio area and fresh landscaping.

Looking down on the new back patio area from the second level elevator landing.

Inside the library, everything has been given a fresh coat of paint and a good dusting. I was reminded of the great ceilings they have in this branch, including an ornate one inside the main entrance and a Southwest design in the main room of the branch. New lighting was also installed, giving the rooms a well-lit but warm feel.

As you come in the main entrance, the children’s room is to the right. Upgrades for the wee readers includes new furniture, six new computer stations, and some interactive learning aids.

To the left when you come in is the main area of the library. You’re initially greeted by the library main desk, replete with old, dark wood and a generous counter (what librarian wouldn’t want this perch?). One on end of the room is the adult section, including a seating area with new furniture and a healthy periodicals section.

The front desk on the left and a look at the Southwest ceiling in the main room.

On the other end of the main area is a new teen section with youth-oriented books, DVDs and magazines, along with two dedicated computers. That end also has 8 more computer stations for general use, plus the library offers free WiFi for patrons. The library will also have self-checkout kiosks.

Adrienna, a ten year veteran staff member of the Anza Branch, led me on a short tour of the new addition on the southeast corner of the building. On the top level, two new ADA compliant restrooms were installed, and on the floor below there is another set of bathrooms, a new staff room (“this used to the boiler room, it was kind of creepy”), and a program room where the library can host small events and workshops. An elevator and a set of stairs connect the two levels.

Adrienna first saw the revamped branch on Monday and despite being locked out of her library for the last two years, she said it still “felt like home”.

Isabel Delgadillo-Romo, who was the Anza Branch manager up until 2005, could be found enjoying cookies in the new staff room. “The program room is a great addition,” she said but also expressed concern about seating for patrons. “They put in more shelves so there is a lot less room for seating.”

The adult seating area in the library’s main room.

On hand for Thursday night’s reception were City Librarian Luis Herrera and Richmond District Supervisor Eric Mar who said “the Richmond District is now whole,” referring to both of the neighborhood’s libraries being open to residents again.

“What a great space this is for the community,” Mar said.

The Anza Branch library officially re-opens next Saturday, June 18th with a community celebration beginning at 1pm. The celebration will include lion dancers, musical entertainment, plus lots of city dignitaries including Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Mar.

After its re-opening, the Anza Branch Library will be open 6 days week, closed on Sundays. For library hours and more information on programs, visit the Anza Branch Library website.

Sarah B.

Supervisor Eric Mar speaks to the crowd at the reception.

A seating area in the library’s children’s room.

A young patron checks out a book at the new computer area in the children’s room.

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5:01 am | Posted under Community, Eric Mar, Events, Kids | 11 comments
  1. Heidi said:

    Yay! I missed that library so much.

  2. Andrew said:

    finally!! the branch at 9th/geary is so warm with all that glass, hopefully the addition of glass on the back won’t make this one the same.

    looks great.

    closed sundays? boo

  3. Rachel said:

    Looks great. Closed Sundays, though? That’s too bad.

  4. Cath said:

    Yay, I can’t wait! We’ve missed our library so much. My kids go to Lafayette, and we used to stop in at Anza 2-3 times/week after school. We go to Richmond weekly, but it’s more of a production. The ceilings look great, and the patio is a fantastic addition (even way out here in the Fog Zone, we like to sit outside at times!).

  5. Carl said:

    this was my childhood library. just looking at that tile pattern takes me back to when I was 7 years old. great job on the renovation!

  6. cf said:

    can’t wait

  7. Rob said:

    Wow! Every renovation has been just brilliant. This one looks amazing.

  8. Chris said:

    I don’t understand the closed Sundays thing. Seems like it would be a lot smarter to be closed on Mondays or Tuesdays if there has to be a closed day.

  9. Susan said:

    Does anyone know if it has a playstructure for kids?

  10. Administrator said:

    @Susan – There is no play structure for kids. There are a few outdoor areas/patios, but not enough room for any kind of structures.

    Sarah B.

  11. Local links: ’06 pics, Enjoy Vegetarian opens, our LEED library, Earth Day & more | Richmond District Blog of San Francisco (richmondsfblog.com) said:

    [...] Anza Branch Library, which re-opened last June after a nice remodel, was recently certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council. What does it mean? That the [...]