It took an act of the California congress – the Rogers Act of 1878 – and the advocacy of Andrew Hallidie, inventor of the cable car, to create San Francisco’s first public library in 1879. In those days, only men were hired as librarians.
Today – a few buildings and librarians (both male and female) later – the grand SF main library stands at 100 Larkin St., opposite the Civic Center. This latest, 376,000 square ft. incarnation opened in 1996 and should stand for many years. Factoid: The library was featured in the 1998 film City of Angels ironically about its rival city, Los Angeles.
Why Visit the Library?
In addition to books and the expected library collections, a Children’s Reading Room, research areas, and computers, the city’s main library hosts free exhibits, classes, lectures, and other events.
I visited and can recommend as current exhibit occupying the Skylight Gallery on the sixth floor. It is “Alive! Children of Buchenwald.” This photo and text exhibit relates the lives of a few of the 600 boys who survived this Nazi concentration camp in a barrack set up by the camp’s Jewish underground and will be up until March 15, 2015.
On January 27 (International Holocaust Remembrance Day) there will be a screening of the documentary “The Boys of Buchenwald” film screening. 6 p.m. at Koret Auditorium.
While you’re there, be sure to explore the building’s architecture, which features a five-story central atrium, bridges, an auditorium, and a grand staircase rises four stories, and a lit wall installation inscribed with the names of more than a hundred authors. The building’s interior is crowned by a spiraling window – which resembles the eye of a hurricane.