South Branch Library
South Branch Photograph: David Wakely
1901 Russell Street at MLK MAP
Berkeley, CA 94703
Mon 10-6; Tues & Wed 10-8; Thurs 12-8; Fri & Sat 10-6
Coming Soon! EXPANDED Branch Hours! Starting December 2, 2013, you will have more time to enjoy our branch libraries! On Tuesdays, branch libraries will stay open until 8:00 PM; and on Wednesdays, branch libraries will open earlier at 10:00 AM. Tool Lending Library hours will not change.
AC Transit 12 - One block north of Ashby BART. No parking lot; unmetered street parking is almost always available.
Tool Lending Library is located next door to South Branch.
- African American interest
- Chinese and Japanese language materials
- Higher education and employment information materials
- Home repair
- Art and foreign language films
- 25,000 items
Programs and Services
- Children’s Events and Storytimes
- Teen services
- 5 Internet access/word processing workstations
- Lawyers in the Library
- Tax preparation assistance February-April only
- Public meeting room
From 1896 to 1901, the South Branch community was served by the Lorin Reading Room, located in an Alcatraz Avenue building. In 1901, the Reading Room moved to its own building on Adeline Street, and was renamed South Branch in 1903, where it stayed for nearly 25 years. In 1927, James W. Plachek (later the architect of the 1931 Central Library) designed a cozy branch library building at 1839 Woolsey Street. In 1958, this building was condemned and a new structure, designed by architect J. Hans Ostwald, was constructed in 1961 at the present location — Russell & Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The meeting room was added in 1974, and in 1979 a small trailer was parked behind the branch to serve as a tool lending library — one of the first in the country. By 1991 a permanent addition was added to South to house the now wildly popular Tool Lending Library.
In recent years it became clear that the 1961 building no longer met the needs of the community. When serious problems were found with the building’s structural elements, and the ventilation, plumbing, and electrical systems, the decision was made to replace rather than renovate. The building was torn down and the beautiful new South Branch Library, designed with community input, was built.
This new 8,700 square foot facility, completed in May 2013, was built to serve future generations. It was designed by Field Paoli Architects to be inviting, efficient and flexible. Library patrons will enjoy plenty of natural light, adequate space for users of all ages, beautiful artwork by Gina Dominguez and renowned Berkeley sculptor Stephen De Staebler, expanded seating, internet access throughout the library, a community meeting room and an expanded tool lending library.
Historic Lorin District