Plans to Rebuild Anza Branch Library Reviewed

By Jonathan Farrell

The Anza Branch of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) is scheduled to close for renovation and seismic upgrade work by next year.

More than 25 people attended a community meeting in the lower level of the branch on Feb. 9 to review architectural designs and make public comments. The Anza Branch that has more than 7,000 square feet and serves the Richmond District is showing its age.

Located on 37th Avenue near Anza Street, it was built in 1932 and is in need of long overdue repairs and renovation. Much of the work planned is to modernize the two-story structure by strengthening it with structural retrofitting. The work will also include mandatory federal regulations referred to as Title 24; better known as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The SF Public Library and its advocacy organization, Friends of the SF Public Library, are pleased to get the plans moving. The plan for renovation is part of a bond measure that was passed by San Francisco voters in 2000.

Mindy Linetzky, who serves as bond program administrator for SFPL, said the 2000 bond measure funds will be used only for construction/repair work to the Anza Branch.

Tina Tom, a neighborhood campaign organizer from Friends of the SF Public Library, also attended the community meeting. She said that through the campaign efforts of Friends "more than $400,000 has been raised so far for the Anza Branch."

"Our goal is to reach $1 million for both the Anza and Richmond branches. We need donations," she said.

Linetzky noted that the monies raised by Friends would be used to buy fixtures, furniture and equipment for the Anza and Richmond branches. That money "does not go for the renovation," she reiterated.

Both Tom and Linetzky said they were pleased to see people taking an interest in the library. They stayed after the 3 p.m. meeting that Saturday to answer more questions and collect comments.

Most of the comments collected so far express concern for the over-all 76-year-old structure and it's landscaping.

In the preliminary assessment, SFPL recognizes the historical significance of the building and is making a careful review to determine the most appropriate modifications. Conformance with the latest accessibility and safety codes will include providing improvements and enlargements for a new electrical system room, new elevator, new restrooms and a new heating and ventilation system. Wider stairs and aisles will also be incorporated into the plans as part of making the building more accessible and safe. Better lighting is also in the plan to accommodate the latest use of technologies and future high-tech advancements.

Plans have a long list of things to be focused upon during the renovation, upgrade and seismic retrofit work. Under current regulations removal of asbestos is required. Other harmful contaminants, such as lead, which can be in the walls, plaster and paint, will also be removed.

During the process occupants in the building will be relocated to reduce health risks.

Much of the new expansion space is expected to be done near the rear of the building to avoid a reduction to the general square footage.

"The next step is the results of a peer review before the Library Commission," said Linetzky.

At that review an independent architect and library assessment professional will evaluate and critique the design.

Renovation is anticipated for two years, beginning in 2009 and completed sometime in 2011. During the renovation library services will be provided through programs offered at neighborhood schools, community centers, and by the use of a Bookmobile service.

For more information about the renovations planned for the Anza Branch, located at 550 37th Ave., call the Branch Library Improvement Program at (415) 557-4354 or visit the Web site at www.sfpl.org/news/blip/anzasurvey.