The last of 24 city libraries to receive seismic upgrades and meet accessibility standards for disabled patrons is set for its grand opening this weekend.
The new two-story, 8,500-square-foot North Beach Branch Library at 850 Columbus Ave. replaces the neighborhood's former library site next door that opened in 1959, according to Michelle Jeffers, a library spokeswoman. The project was made possible through two successful ballot-box initiatives.
In addition to an expanded space for children, teens and adults, and more public computers, the new library is opening with "a shiny new collection" of materials such as books, CDs and DVDs, Jeffers said.
Waterproof speakers on the outside of the building will comprise a "sound sculpture" through which the sounds of the surrounding area will be broadcast, including poetry readings, cafes, markets, sea lions, playgrounds and foghorns.
The project, including the land acquisition, cost $14.5 million and was managed by the Department of Public Works. The new library, designed by San Francisco-based firm Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, meets LEED Silver certification standards.
The old library, which closed to the public in March, will be removed and the space will be utilized as part of a Recreation and Park Department plan to renovate the adjacent Joe DiMaggio Playground.
The nearly $200 million Branch Library Improvement Program received its initial funding from the bond passed in 2000, and additional money from Proposition D, which extended the Library Preservation Fund and was approved in 2007.
The City has 28 public library branches, four of which already met seismic safety standards, along with Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, prior to 2000. The Mission, Chinatown and Oceanview branches were renovated in the 1990s, and the San Francisco Main Library opened in 1996.
Saturday's grand opening begins at 1 p.m. Mayor Ed Lee; Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who represents the neighborhood; City Librarian Luis Herrera; and other city leaders are expected to attend.