Noe Valley Voice April 2002

Library Renovation Starts Rolling

By Erin O'Briant

About 40 Noe Valley residents and San Francisco library staff met on March 14 to begin deciding how to renovate the 86-year-old Noe Valley-Sally Brunn Branch Library at 451 Jersey Street.

"We are going to be integral to the history of this library," said Jeannene Przyblyski, chair of a new library committee formed by the group Friends of Noe Valley. Przyblyski presented a slide show and sketched the history of the Noe Valley Branch before opening the meeting to comments and suggestions.

Noe Valley residents agreed that the renovation should preserve the original building as much as possible while bringing seismic standards, mechanical and electrical systems, accessibility, and staff work space up to date.

"We have a real drive to do restoration," said Deputy City Librarian Paul Underwood, representing the San Francisco Library. "The integrity of the exterior should be maintained as much as possible." Noe Valley's library is one of the city's historic Carnegie libraries and was built in 1916.

Underwood said the city is considering renting bookmobiles to provide library services to neighborhood patrons during the estimated two years the branch will be closed for renovation. Children's programs, such as the popular lapsits, will be housed in another neighborhood building, possibly a school. Nearby branches may extend their hours to accommodate Noe Valley residents, Underwood said.

Some Noe Valley Branch staff may work at other branches during the upgrade, according to Underwood, but no staff will be cut during the renovation.

Marilyn Thompson, the library's program manager for branch renovations, said the overhaul would begin in early 2004. If all goes according to plan, the new, safer Noe Valley Library would re-open in the fall of 2005.

Because the bond measure that provides for the upgrades does not include money for interior projects such as new furniture and books, attendees discussed the need to raise money to thoroughly renovate the branch.

"My sense is that this community is going to want more than what the bond provides for," said Dave Monks, president of the Friends of Noe Valley. The Friends and Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library will work with the Friends of Noe Valley to raise additional funds, he said.

Some participants expressed a desire to make the branch a "green" building, meaning the library would meet stringent environmental standards and pay for green certification. Underwood reassured attendees that the renovation would include environmentally sound details such as low-flow toilets and low-energy-use electrical systems, but said paying for such certification was not included in the bond measure that originally funded the renovation.

To get more feedback from residents about their hopes for the Noe Valley Branch, city library staff, in conjunction with the Friends of Noe Valley and the East & West of Castro Street Improvement Club, will distribute a community needs assessment survey during the next two months. Survey forms will be available at the library and at Cover to Cover bookstore; they also will be distributed along 24th Street.

In May or June, the staff will present the results of the survey at the Library Commission meeting, held at 4 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the Main Library, 100 Larkin Street.

The local renovation is one of 24 branch library improvement projects taking place throughout the city. Because the Noe Valley-Sally Brunn Branch Library has been identified as a seismic hazard, it will be one of the first facilities to undergo renovation. The citywide renovation program is scheduled to be completed in 2010.

Those interested in helping out with the survey should call the Noe Valley Library at 695-5095.