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Ingleside Branch Library: A Bustling Balance of Books and Activities

Alex Mullaney/Ingleside-Excelsior Light

Besides borrowing books, using computers and taking a variety of classes indoors, patrons at the Ingleside Branch Library can now use the new community garden in the courtyard.

The creation makes Ingleside Branch more useful to the community at large, according to branch manager Nina Pogosyan. It has benches, interactive children’s play structures and more.

On the day of the ribbon cutting ceremony, the fine weather attracted many spectators. Preschoolers were brought to help cut the ribbon and enjoy the new activities available outside. City officials spoke about how the project was a longtime in the making.

“There is also more room for public events like performances,” Pogosyan said of the  San Francisco Public Works designed project based on a Planning Department concept.

Previously, a fence separated undeveloped land owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission from the library-owned courtyard, but City Hall and the library decided to tear it down to create the garden that is open during library hours as of Sept. 24, after a ribbon cutting and opening ceremony.

Funding for the garden area was provided by a variety of sources including the San Francisco Public Library, the Public Utilities Commission and District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee’s budget, according to SFPL Chief of Community Programs and Partnerships Michelle Jeffers. “San Francisco Public Works did a remarkable job in transforming this library patio into a usable, family-friendly space that has plenty of places to enjoy a book outside, allow children to run around and play, and also allow us to bring Library programs like our very popular story times into the garden,” Jeffers stated in an email.

When you enter Ingleside Branch, you are greeted by a display showcasing the newest book releases. The nonfiction and adult sections are found directly behind the display and to the right is the teen corner with computers and young adult books. To the left is a colorful children’s area where many library events are held.

Ingleside Branch provides services for patrons of all ages. Young children can participate in Preschool Films and Toddler Tales and Playtime while tutoring, college application help, chocolate tastings and more are available for older children and teenagers. Adults can choose from events like cooking classes and film showings to workshops like the Pennies to Plans series, which covers topics like retirement income planning and credit score. Events are funded by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, a nonprofit organization.

Frequent Ingleside Branch patron Pam Dang said that she has been coming to the library since she was in high school. “This library is genuinely a good place to be, whether you want to study, bring kids to a class or borrow new material,” Dang said. “Since there’s going to be a new garden, I think the public would be more likely to come to a place that’s traditionally just for books and studying. Putting some outdoor space near a library is a great idea, and I am waiting to see how it looks.”

Ten-year-old Ethan also had good things to say about Ingleside Branch. “I always have fun when I come to the library,” he said. “I can’t buy all the books I want to read, so I like coming here to read them. I can also play games on the computer, and that is probably my favorite part.”

Ingleside Branch’s clientele has increased relatively despite the onset of the technology age, according to a reference librarian. “A challenge with working in the library is that we have to learn how to serve the public better, since needs have changed,” the librarian, who works primarily on the weekends, said. “It is not solely books anymore. People who do not have access to different kinds of technology in their homes can come to the library, where we can give them many of these resources as well.” The Laptop Program, which is present in all branch libraries, allows cardholders to borrow laptops.

Ingleside Branch’s success is partly due to its staff, according to Pogosyan. “The staff employees speak different languages which is very important to serve and help our clients,” Pogosyan said. “We try our best to help our patrons in anything they ask for, such as printing and copying documents, spell check, resumes and more. Also, in the past few years, this neighborhood has been improved greatly.”

Ingleside Branch Library is located 1298 Ocean Ave. and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 12 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, 12 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, 1 to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Information about upcoming events and services as well as how to register for them can be found under the Ingleside Library section of sfpl.org.

This article first appeared in The Light’s October 2015 print edition. It has been updated.

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