The Mission’s new library branch opened quietly Saturday morning. Just a minute before 10 a.m., the official opening time, three library staff members placed the library’s seven-days-a-week schedule outside of the building. Then, they clustered together in front of a camera, and struck a “Ta-Da” pose before heading back inside to greet the few patrons rolling in.
The temporary library, at 1234 Valencia St. between 23rd and 24th streets, was a long time coming for the Mission. The Mission branch at 24th and Bartlett St. closed for renovations in June, 2019, and hasn’t opened since. The pop-up in this former Yoga Tree site, just around the corner from the old library, means residents now have more options. People no longer have to choose between walking to the nearest bookmobile or traveling to the next closest public library; they can go somewhere a little closer to home.
And the new site is homey. The high ceilings and glossy wooden floors prevent patrons from feeling claustrophobic in a space designed for, at most, 49 people. Three white walls run parallel to each other through the room, giving the library a sense of structure as people peruse.
On the furthest side, there is a public bathroom and shelves for reserved books. Opposite that, patrons can access computer kiosks, printers, and a table with a charging station. If you’re a reader, there are plenty of children’s books near the front of the library and decent offerings for adults and teens in the back; all the books were transferred from the branch on Bartlett.
The room took a month to set up, according to Children Services Manager Laura Tarango.
“I mean, it used to be a yoga studio,” she said. The library’s electrician invested a fair bit of time into installing outlets and making the ceiling lights brighter throughout the building “so it could be operational as a library.”
People exuded excitement for a library to be up and running in the Mission again as they stepped inside.
“I’m over the moon,” said Emily Phillips, carrying a tote bag filled with French books. Before the temporary library opened, the 64-year-old resigned herself to ordering books online. “Digital is not the same.”
“Libraries are the most humane place,” she said. “You can come inside to sit down, you can use a computer for free, you can discover a gem that you weren’t looking for. There’s nothing like it.”
Joan Czaia, 56, decided she will still attend the Bernal Heights Branch Library for the more extensive book collection and “the comfy chairs,” but she is happy to have the Mission Branch nearby her home to put books on hold.
“At least until the Bartlett Library is back,” she said.
As for when that will happen, the San Francisco Public Library has released a schedule. For more information about the renovation, go here.