Noe Valley Voice July-August 2006

Building a New Library--One Brick at a Time

By Corrie M. Anders

Fundraising can often be a chore, but patrons of the Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library have been having fun this summer as they partied toward a goal of rounding up $130,000.

The money will be used to help support the branch, an architectural jewel now in the midst of a $5.7 million earthquake retrofit, when it reopens late next year. Local library lovers recently gathered for two lively events in "Downtown" Noe Valley.

First, there was a spaghetti feed, with Pasta Pomodoro on 24th Street dishing up bruschetta, rigatoni, and other Italian fare for a large crowd.

The May 25 event was "really well attended," said Kim Drew, chair of the Noe Valley Library Campaign. "It was so much fun, and it provided great visibility for the campaign."

The restaurant operators donated a portion of the bill of diners who identified themselves as present to support the library. Drew said the event brought in several hundred dollars.

Author Ben Fong-Torres, a Noe Valley resident, was the fundraising draw two weeks later at Le Zinc French Bistro on 24th Street. Fong-Torres read excerpts and autographed copies of his new book Becoming Almost Famous: My Back Pages in Music, Writing, and Life, a mix of current essays and articles from his days with Rolling Stone magazine.

At one point during the June 4 book-signing, Fong-Torres treated the turnout of 60 or so people to an impromptu round of song. That also helped book sales.

"Instead of selling at retail," Drew said, "people were making a contribution to the campaign, and for that contribution we were giving them Ben's book."

The book bash raised $1,500, with Le Zinc owners Diana and Max Braud donating the use of their restaurant and providing hors d'oeuvres and beverages, Drew said.

The fundraising drive will continue this summer and through the fall. The campaign plans to focus on selling commemorative bricks that will be engraved and placed on the front patio of the restored library. The bricks cost $250 each.

Approximately 45 of the 250 bricks have been sold so far.

Most bricks will be engraved with the names of donors or their children. Drew said some buyers have deceased family members they wish to honor and at least one person anonymously has purchased a brick to pay tribute to a community activist. "Some people might be surprised to see their names when the patio is unveiled because a brick has been purchased in honor of them," Drew said.

The bricks can be purchased each Saturday at the Farmers' Market on 24th Street, where the campaign has set up a booth. Shoppers also can buy a $16 white-and-blue canvas book bag designed by Bohdanna Kesala, a neighborhood artist and a member of the fundraising campaign.

Drew said people's generosity in pledges, contributions, and fundraising events has helped the campaign reach the halfway point of its $130,000 target. "But we still have a long way to go," she said.

Money the group raises will be used to purchase items that city funds will not cover, such as new computers, tables, chairs, shelving, and other interior fixtures.

The seismic upgrade began shortly after the 90-year-old facility closed in February. Construction workers recently completed hazardous materials abatement and spent early summer carrying out interior demolition. The two-story Beaux Arts building, at 451 Jersey Street, is scheduled to reopen in late 2007.

To get more information about the fundraising effort, contact Friends of the San Francisco Public Library at 415-626-7512, ext. 103, or e-mail Drew at