Richmond Branch Library celebrates anniversary

by Judith Kahn

On May 15, the Senator Milton Marks/Richmond Branch Library celebrated the first anniversary of its renovation and re-opening. Throughout the festive afternoon, close to 1,000 people enjoyed a variety of programs geared to every age group. Students from George Washington High School kicked off the program with a lion dance performance and children were entertained by the marionettes of Dmitry Rashkin.

Rashkin and his partner Svetlana also taught various dances to children, providing costumes appropriate for each of the dances. His teacher was Sergey Obraztsov, the artistic director of the Central Puppet Theater in Moscow for 40 years.

Outside the library, located at 351 Ninth Ave., Eddie Madril, a member of the Pascha Yaqui tribe, discussed the history of the tribe and performed authentic Native American Dances, including the Grass Dance, Hoop Dance and Fancy Dance. The Hoop Dance is an intricate dance involving six hoops lying on the ground. In the course of the dance, he picked up each hoop with his foot and finally intertwined all of them with his body. At the end of his performance, Madril invited the audience to join him in a dance.

The afternoon's program ended with Ruth Keady, a long-time San Franciscan and accomplished vocalist, singing some of her favorites jazz tunes, accompanied by extraordinary musicians. Keady sang the traditional version of a song, followed by a jazz version to illustrate to the children how it changed.

In addition, an arts and crafts program involved children decorating bird cages with recycled objects from SCRAP - a non-profit organization which breathes life into old objects, thus reducing the amount of waste going to filling landfills. SCRAP collects, sorts, displays and makes available reusable materials for teachers, parents, program directors, school children, artists and designers. The program provided interactive and entertaining diversions for everyone.

The renovation of the Richmond Branch Library, originally built in 1914, was funded by a citywide bond measure passed in November 2000 and by private funds raised by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. The renovation was the largest capital improvement campaign in the history of San Francisco Public Library system.

Some of the renovations at the Richmond District branch consisted of a new period-style ceiling, table light fixtures and flooring made from renewable materials. The furniture, once dark, has been replaced with a lighter wood. In addition, historic light fixtures were replicated, but with energy-efficient florescent lamps and new, retrofitted "E" glass windows, which allow more light to enter the building.

Since designers could not build on the front of the building, a two-story glass lobby was added onto the 10th Avenue side, making the library more spacious.

At the Ninth Avenue entrance of the library there are two bronze sculptures. The dome on the south side consists of sculptures depicting the Bay Area prior to the construction of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges. Inserted into the sculptures are images of past modes of travel that people used to take to reach the Bay Area - walking, horses, ships, wood-burning locomotives and a prairie schooner. The relief map on the sculpture on the north side of the walkway provides a contemporary view of the Bay Area with the Richmond Branch Library highlighted in the center. Here, more modern methods of transportation are illustrated, including a jet, bicycle, ferry, automobiles and the Muni #38 Geary bus.

Scott Donahue, who rode into the Bay Area on a bicycle, got his inspiration for the sculptures from the fact that everyone living in the Bay Area - or their ancestors - arrived here from elsewhere using different modes of travel.