Library Acquires 90,000 Historic Property Photos

The Assessor-Recorder’s Office turned over 94,000 property photos to the San Francisco Public Library. The photos span from the late 1940’s through the early 2000’s, covering commercial and residential properties across the City.

Previously only kept in work files of the Assessor’s Office, the initiative was made possible through the Assessor’s recent efforts to modernize and digitize the hundreds of thousands of real estate vital documents in the Office.

“San Francisco history is rich and worth preserving. Our view into how our City once looked and felt is an important reminder of where we came from. I’m proud to be the catalyst for making these historic photos available for generations to come. Our history shouldn’t be boxed away and forgotten,” said Assessor Carmen Chu.

The photos will now be available in the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection at the Main Library, which is one of the largest in the Bay Area. “The photos are an invaluable resource for people trying to find pictures of their own house or neighborhood,” said City Librarian Michael Lambert. “They also contain abundant documentation of back alleys, street and building signs, automobiles and other details of daily life – essentially Google Street View for the past sixty years.”

In collaboration, the Library has created a searchable database and map for members of the public to be able to locate images of specific properties. Visit Photographs can be requested using a Photograph Request Form online. When available photographs and negatives may be viewed at the Main Library during the Photo Desk open hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 1-5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m.

One of the photos, shown below, is the Adolph G. Sutro Residence, taken in 1950. Sutro residence was designed by architect Harold Stoner on Mount Sutro and was later demolished for the transmission towers, including Sutro Tower.

MAY 2019

Library Eliminates Previous Fines As well as Fines Going Forward

Two months into an intensive Library Users Association campaign to broaden the scope of S.F. Public Library’s January fines and fees initiative, the Library Commission did that this week, at its regular Thursday, March 21, 2018 meeting.

But the Library’s fine elimination plan, now expanded to eliminate fines that are on the books, as well eliminating fines going forward as approved January 17, would continue all of its fees, with no guaranteed alternative to patrons having to pay-or-replace. That would continue to regressively affect the poorest patrons with fees that hit the hardest those least able to afford library charges for lost or damaged materials (fees).

Peter Warfield, Executive Director of Library Users Association, said “We are glad that the Library is coming closer to a position we have advocated for years – getting rid of all money fines and fees. But fees are actually a far greater burden on Library patrons, and there should be options for patrons to be accountable without having to spend money or alternatively have a potentially lifelong ban on borrowing.

Library rules prevent patrons from borrowing materials if they owe more than $10 in fines or fees or a combination.

Library Users Association information requests under Open Government (Sunshine) laws revealed that recent library records showed fees on the books are some four times what is owed in fines.

Library fees remaining include $500 for a lost or damaged laptop and $250 for a tablet, respectively, which the Library Commission subsequently cut from $1000 and $500.

Peter Warfield is Director of the Library Users Assn. and lives in San Francisco

April 2019