BERNAL HEIGHTS LIBRARY REOPENING – ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

BY BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson © 2010

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Jing Mo Athletic Association Lion Dancers at the ReOpening
of the Bernal Heights Branch of the SF Public Library.

Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

The Bernal Heights Branch of the San Francisco Public Library was the site of a grand reopening celebration Saturday, January 30. Hundreds of eager neighbors watched blessings by the Jing Mo Athletic Association Lion dancers and the Aztec dancers of Danza Xitalalli-Xolotl as the doors to the library were opened to the public. Because all week the weather forecast predicted rain the ribbon cutting ceremony was planned for and held inside. After brief opening remarks by City Librarian Luis Herrera, State Sentor Mark Leno, State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, Supervisor David Campos, Department of Public Works Director, Ed Reiskin, and Donna Bero, Executive Director of the San Francisco Friends of the Public Library the ribbon was cut and library services began.

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Performers from Danza Xitlalli – Xolotl invoke blessings
on the Bernal Heights branch library.

Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

The Bernal Heights Branch library is the 13th project to be completed under the Branch Library Improvement Program which is funded by money from Prop A the 2000 bond measure. Other completed projects include Excelsior, Noe Valley, Mission Bay, Portola, West Portal, Richmond, Sunset, Ingleside, Marina, Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk, Glen Park, and Western Addition. Remaining projects are Bayview, Parkside, Golden Gate Valley, Potrero Hill, Presidio, Merced, Visitacion Valley, North Beach, Ortega, Park and Anza.

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Ed Reiskin, Director of the Department of Public Works in front of the newly reopened Bernal Heights Branch of the SF Public library.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

According to the historical display in the community room, the current building was dedicated on October 20, 1940 and was one of three branches build with funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), an depression era program started by FDR to provide jobs. “Just as the WPA (Works Progress Administration) provided much needed jobs for public works projects in Bernal Heights and across San Francisco in the late 1930’s the Branch Library Improvement Program is today providing works for architects, contractors, trades people and laborers to rebuild our libraries across the city, which is all the more important in these challenging times.” Ed Reiskin noted in his remarks.

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Main floor of the Bernal Heights branch.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

The main room upstairs retains its high ceiling and original hand painted stencil decorations. Hanging original ornate light fixtures cast a warm glow throughout the rooms. The extensive refurbishment of the downstairs included creating a dedicated children’s room, a community room and accessible bathrooms.

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Dedicated children’s room that is part of the Bernal Heights Branch.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

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A view of the children’s room refelected in a mirror put on their level.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

City Librarian Luis Herrera summed up the opening by stating, “The renovation has painstakingly preserved the wonderful features of this lovely an historic branch while the updating has created a space that offers new technology, flexible uses for this diverse community and a seismically safer structure that can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

See Related: SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROGRAMS BEGIN

See Related: ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON ARCHIVE

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist. Bill embraced photojournalism at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR), The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SFist, SFAppeal. Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past six years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

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