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Two San Francisco libraries will receive a total of $13.2 million in state grants to make renovations, city officials announced.
The grants are part of the state’s largest investment in public library infrastructure — California State Library Building Forward — according to a city news release.
The Chinatown/Him Mark Lai Branch will receive nearly $8 million and the Mission Branch will get $5.2 million. The funds will be used in each branch to upgrade library services and make improvements to the ventilation systems.
“San Franciscans love their libraries and these planned improvements to our beloved Chinatown and Mission branches ensure we are delivering on our goals for library service excellence,” said City Librarian Michael Lambert in the announcement.
Both renovations are designed to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified and to advance San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan goals to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. The goal is for both libraries to become fully electric, eliminating natural gas heating and taking advantage of the city’s municipal hydroelectric power.
The Mission Branch Library will add rooftop solar panels and the Chinatown Branch Library will upgrade its existing solar panels, providing renewable power.
The funds add to larger renovation projects at each library.
At the Mission Branch, which has already begun the first phase of its $24.7 million renovation, the project includes the restoration of its 24th Street entrance, adding a new central staircase into the building’s historic reading room that will be graced by a public art project: a stained-glass mural by Bay Area artist Juana Alicia Araiza, commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission.
The historic terra cotta facade of the library will also be restored. Other improvements to the 1914 Carnegie library include the addition of a large community program room, improvements to the children’s room, a new dedicated space for teens, and additional restrooms.
At the Chinatown/Him Mark Lai Branch, originally built in 1921, the $29.4 million project will restore and repair the historic terra cotta decorations on the exterior facade and entry stairway, as well as restore the historic main reading room.
The little-used mezzanine will be removed, and a new staircase will be added to improve sightlines and allow library users to navigate the building and its rooftop community space more easily. The branch’s community meeting room will be expanded, an improvement highly sought by the neighborhood.