South Branch Library
1901 Russell Street at MLK MAP
Berkeley, CA 94703
Mon & Tues 10-6; Wed & Thurs 12-8; Fri & Sat 10-6
Closed Sundays - Holidays 2013
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
- 90 English language magazines and newspapers
- 10 Asian language magazines and newspapers
- 9 Spanish language newspapers and magazines
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, 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