On June 2, 2001, the Ingleside branch library reopened in a new location--1649 Ocean Avenue (at Faxon). This new branch offered a number of improvements over the old branch, which had been located nearby for more than 75 years.
Among the benefits: full accessibility for the handicapped (including restrooms), five computers and the space in which to operate them, plus access to the Library's full catalog and database as well as the Internet.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the new location is the greatly enhanced visibility for the branch. The old location was on a side street (387 Ashton Avenue) while the new branch is in the main street of the neighborhood. The 5,000 square foot branch is almost four times as large as the facility it replaces and is very much in the center of town.
It was not always so for the Ingleside branch, which had a history of being less than an optimum library. In 1925 Calvin Coolidge was President, F. Scott Fitzgerald had just published The Great Gatsby, and the Ingleside branch opened in the storefront location it occupied until April of this year. At 1,237 square feet this was, for many years, the second smallest branch in San Francisco. The unwieldy floor plan, designed for retail rather than a library, made this branch almost impossible to use as a site for programs, especially the storytime lapsits for children so popular at all of the other branches in the system.
Going back even further, the Women's Club of Ingleside requested that a branch be built on a site provided by the Ingleside Improvement Club some eight years earlier. Unfortunately all available funds, including those provided by the Carnegie grant, were exhausted. This led to the first of many leased facilities for the Ingleside branch--a storefront available then for $40 a month and a five-year lease. Over the years the surrounding area has ebbed and flowed economically with a bad patch during the 1960s and the arrival of chain stores in the 1970s. Today the Ingleside neighborhood is on the rebound and the branch library has contributed significantly to that revival.
The new location, in an historic former Bank of America building, promises a level of visibility and service to the community that has never been possible before despite the long history of the branch. Indeed, even before the recent change in circumstances, the Ingleside branch was one of the most popular and busy in the City's entire 26 branch system and had a very loyal following among the area's residents and merchants. The future looks very bright.
This article was originally published in Vol. 30, No. 7 of "At the San Francisco Public Library" by the Friends & Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library, July 2001. It is reprinted here with their kind permission.
Image: Old Ingleside Branch. Courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection
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Page launched 2 July 2001; Updated 26 May 2003.