Saturday, January 26, 2019

Mission branch public library is getting a remodel

City librarians and architects explained the project to 30 or so interested but anxious neighbors and users on Saturday afternoon. (H/t to Mission Local for alerting me to this meeting.)

Hey -- didn't they just do this to the branch? That's how it felt to many in attendance. We were reminded that those last big changes happened way back in 1997, consisting of a very necessary earthquake upgrade.

The building is a Carnegie Library, fruit of early 20th century philanthropic uplift, which means it is historic, elegant, and impractical as hell for a modern facility. It is also well loved and well used, including housing half of the San Francisco Public Library's entire Spanish-language children's collection.

This time around we'll be getting a restored central staircase, returning to something closer to the building's original floor plan while converting much of the interior into what is called a "community living room." Let's hope this works out as well in practice as in aspiration; the librarians sure try to accommodate all-comers, so it might.

A couple of the architects' improvements fell under what they labeled environmental "resiliency" -- that is building for anticipated climate change. This city will be warmer, so the entire place will be air conditioned, serving as a neighborhood "cooling center." It will also be constructed as a possible "Smoke Refuge," somewhere to retreat to when California's big wildfires befoul our air as they did last November.

All this will require shutting down for 1.5 to 2 years starting in summer 2020. There will be some kind of library access somewhere as yet undetermined. Let's hope it is close by; the library helps the Mission feel the very special neighborhood it is.

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