San Francisco Library Upgrades Take 13 Years, Quarter Billion Dollars

By Matt Baume
|  Monday, Feb 21, 2011  |  Updated 4:45 PM PDT
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San Francisco Library Upgrades Take 13 Years, Quarter Billion Dollars

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NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 09: A reporter holds the new Amazon Kindle 2.0 at an unveiling event at the Morgan Library & Museum February 9, 2009 in New York City. The updated electronic reading device is slimmer with new syncing technology and longer battery life and will begin shipping February 24th. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

San Francisco's libraries are finally wrapping up a renovation project that started in the late eighties and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. And in the process, they've had to rethink what people use libraries for.

The program started with about $100 million in 1988 for the Main Library, Chinatown Branch, Mission Branch, and Ocean View Branch, according to SF Gate. Another $100 million came in 2000 for 24 other branches. And in 2007, voters approved $34 million more.

Friends of the Public Library raised an additional $11 million.

Of course, San Francisco being what it is, an audit showed delays of about two years associated with the projects.

The improved buildings have more access for disabled people, and a promise to offer more meeting space and digital resources. That's an important shift, since the public's reading habits have changed significantly since the project began in 1988.

The improvements still aren't quite finished. A North Beach branch continues to languish in the approval process, and is expected to be done sometime in 2013.

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