Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fred Lyon - Living Through the Lens

The Art, Music and Recreation Center and the San Francisco History Center are pleased to bring you this film screening and book signing.

Fred Lyon: Living Through the Lens, directed by Michael House, is an intimate exposé of San Francisco photographer Fred Lyon, who is still going strong after seven decades behind the camera. Though Lyon is one of America’s leading advertising, interior design, architectural, food, wine, and travel photographers, he is best known for his mood-soaked street photography of San Francisco in the ’40s and ’50s.

This film takes the viewer inside the world of Lyon, exploring his immense archive of San Francisco images, the film also goes into what it takes to make a living from photography, revealing the story of this prolific, innovative artist. Photographer Fred Lyon has been called “San Francisco’s Brassai”. He’s also been compared to Cartier-Bresson, Atget, and Andre Kertez, but all with a San Francisco twist. Fred happily admits his debt to those icons.

Now 90, his nonstop career reaches back to the early 1940s and embraces news, fashion, architecture, advertising, wine and food. These days find him combing his picture files for galleries, publishers and print collectors. (An exhibit of his work opens at the Harvey Milk Photo Center on November 8 and runs through January 10, 2015.)

Photographer Fred Lyon will be on hand before and after the film screening to sign copies of his newest monograph -  San Francisco: Portrait of a City


RSVP and share this event on Facebook
Main, Koret Auditorium, Thursday, October 2, 6:00-8:00 PM

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Photographer Janet Delaney In Conversation with Architect Mark Hogan

The San Francisco History Center and Art, Music & Recreation Center invite you to join photographer and author Janet Delaney in conversation with San Francisco architect Mark Hogan. 

Wednesday - 9/24/2014 - 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

South of Market: 1978 - 1986 is a photographic portrait of a San Francisco neighbourhood in the throes of urban renewal.

In 1978, Janet Delaney moved to San Francisco’s South of Market district because the location was central and the rent was cheap. On the weekends she photographed with her large format camera at the nearby construction site for what is now the Moscone Convention Center. After witnessing the nighttime demolition of an adjacent residential hotel, Delaney became interested in the rippling economic effects urban renewal was having on poor and working class residents. Leaving the construction site behind, Delaney joined local efforts to protest the city’s treatment of the community and began to photograph and interview her neighbors in their homes and places of work.

South of Market is not a romantic representation of San Francisco’s past, but rather a testament to a vanished community made up of blue-collar workers, small business owners, families with children, artists, and gay men. The work is especially relevant today, as a new wave of gentrification brought on by the second internet boom is again driving less affluent residents out of San Francisco. “As I continue to photograph in San Francisco and in urban areas around the world,” says Delaney, “I see that who plays and who pays remains, as it always was, the central issue.”

The photographs are accompanied by interviews which offer personal responses to the impact of gentrification on twelve of Delaney’s neighbors. An essay by Erin O’Toole sets the context for this story by providing a history of this constantly evolving San Francisco neighborhood.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Merola Goes To The Movies - Anna Bolena.

 image source: Anna Netrebko, Merola Opera Program

The Merola Opera Program and the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch are teaming up once more to bring you a screening of a performance of Gaetano Donizetti's Anna Bolena.

This performance features 1996 Merola alum Anna Netrebko, Elīna Garanča, and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo.  Eric Génovèsé directs the Vienna State Opera.

Donizetti retells the tragedy of Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII's unfortunate wives. Betrayal and passion ensue as the Anna is driven insane by her unfaithful king as he plots to bring his mistress to the throne.

For more information read this article by the Merola Opera Program's Tracy Grant.

Anna Bolena will be screened at 1:00, Sunday, September 21st at 1:00 PM in the Main Library's Koret Auditorium.  Seating begins at 12:30 PM.  The screening time is 150 minutes.  All Library programs are free.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What's it worth? Price It!

price it database

Price It! Antiques and Collectibles is a database available from the San Francisco Public Library website that allows you to find pricing information for antiques and collectibles in more than 100 categories.  The pricing information comes from online auction sites such as eBay, online antiques dealers such as GoAntiques and TIAS and a few land based auction houses.  The items you find in Price It provide a general idea of what a similar item may sell for.  Everything listed in Price It! has already sold.

Price It can be found by following this link and/or following these simple instructions:
  • Go to sfpl.org
  • Hold your mouse cursor over eLibrary and click on Articles and Databases
You will see a list of ALL the databases offered by San Francisco Public Library!!
  • Scroll down to "P" and click on Price It!
In the top right you will see the three services offered by Price It!: Search, Info Center and Collecting Club.  Here you will find a brief overview of each section.  And remember SFPL librarians are more than happy to assist you in person at any reference desk nd can answer quick questions on the phone and through our reference chat service.


A keyword search for HUMMEL results in over 200 entries from $10 to over $6,000.  You can sort results by price, date sold or best match.

Info Center:

Here you can find stories and articles from some of the best-known authors and authorities in the antiques and collectibles industry.  You will find valuable tips and tricks on how to repair, restore and conserve your antiques.  You can learn how to hire an appraiser and learn the difference between market value, utilitarian value and sentimental value.

Collecting Club Directory:

The directory currently feature 6,332 groups.  You can limit by category and also search by keyword to find a club that may offer more resources and expertise.

Help Center:

Here is where you can request more information and find tips on how to search the database. 

The Library still has price guides to collectibles of all kinds, but an online resource like Price It! will provide the most general and current information available.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Music Research Tools Free & Online through San Francisco Public Library

This information is also available as a printable pdf file.

Your San Francisco Public Library card allows you to check out and return books to and from the Main Library and 27 branch libraries throughout the City. You can reserve material and have it sent to and any of these locations. It is also possible to request material from other libraries in California and from all across the country. Your Library card also gives you access to eBooks, eReference resources, databases and streaming audio and video.

Our collection includes more than 20,000 books, 32,000 scores, as well as the collected works of over 200 composers. We also have an in-depth collection of popular music and Broadway songbooks. The Dorothy Starr Collection contains over 38,000 pieces of vocal sheet music. Our collection also includes reference works, thematic catalogs, guides to repertoire, and resources for writing program notes. We have scores and instructional material for all instruments and ensembles.


The San Francisco Public Library Catalog. Our books, scores and recordings are indexed here. You can limit your catalog search to scores, books, eBooks, CDs, eMusic, DVDs, eVideos, or LPs.

Link+. This is a service that allows San Francisco Public Library card holders to borrow material from other libraries in California and Nevada including many libraries from the CSU system.

Interlibrary Loan. San Francisco Public Library card holders can also request books and scores from public and university libraries from the entire country.


Classical Scores Library. Includes digitized scores, mostly of contemporary classical works not yet in the public domain.

Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection. A collection of vocal sheet music. This collection is particular strong for popular song, but also includes Broadway and film song, art song, operatic arias (in various ranges) and choral works for various ensembles.

Fakebook Index. An index to lead sheets and fakebook arrangements for all styles of music including jazz, pop, rock, classical and folk music.

Orchestral Music Sets. The Library loans sets of parts to orchestral works to registered ensembles. These parts are also available to consult for audition preparation.

Dorothy Starr Collection stamp with Starr's The Music Stand logo.


Oxford Music Online. Provides online access to the the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, The Oxford Companion to Music and the Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

Music Index. A Comprehensive Guide to Music Periodicals and Literature. An index, abstracts and some full text to music periodicals.

Rock’s Back Pages. An archive 25,000 articles covering rock music’s movements and musicians.

JStor. Full text articles from 1838 onward from scholarly journals in all areas of the arts and humanities.

African American Music Reference. Essays and images that document all forms of black American musical expression, including blues, jazz, spirituals, civil rights songs, slave songs, minstrelsy, rhythm and blues, gospel.

STREAMING AUDIO AND VIDEO from Alexander Street Press

Classical Music Library. High quality streaming audio to more than 15,000 classical music albums covering all eras and genres.

American Song. A streaming audio collection of over half a million tracks of American roots music and pre-1960 American popular music.

Contemporary World Music. Provides access to more than a million tracks of music from 169 countries in contemporary and traditional styles.

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries. Provides audio and liner notes for recordings from the Smithsonian Folkways label. These include world music, folk music, classical music and spoken word recordings.

Classical Music in Video. Contains more than 1,000 hours of classical music performances and masterclasses in streaming video.

If you have questions or need reference assistance, call us at 415-557-4525 during regular Library hours.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Crossing America by Bicycle

On August 23, 2014 from 11am to 12:30pm at the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street in the lower level Latino-Hispanic Meeting Rooms, we will be having a very unusual event.

Mike Woods is a structural engineer who has lived in San Francisco since 2000. Most days he can be found at his desk, drawing and performing calculations for floodgates, tunnels, and bridges. In high school, he used to ride from library to library to find books and explore his home state of Massachusetts.

On June 1, 2013, after very little exercise, but much planning, he mounted his bicycle and began a 4,257-mile ride from San Francisco to Boston. He will discuss the process of planning and then riding for in 55 days. Long days of up to 120-miles could be expected for this out-of-shape rider with bad knees.

Mike will bring the actual bicycle, as well as the 100 items of gear that he took on his trip.

All Library programs are free and open to the public.  Supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Extreme Fashion: A Survey of Women's Fashion, pt. 2

Extreme Style: A Survey of Women’s Fashion continues to be on display in the Art, Music and Recreation Center on the 4th floor of the Main Library through mid-October.

Earlier blog entry: Extreme Style: A Survey of Women’s Fashion, pt. 1 (August 3, 2014)

Swimming suit 1885 - source: Etching and Engraving Picture File

19th century swimwear and tennis wear: When women first began to swim, beaches were strictly segregated between men and women. Even so, modesty was the goal with style not much of a consideration. The first swimsuits were far from practical or comfortable; ladies went as far as to sew lead weights into the hem of the "bathing gown" to prevent the dress from floating up and exposing their (stocking covered) legs. Bathing costumes were made of a heavy wool flannel that absorbed pounds of water. When women began playing tennis in the late 1800s, they basically just wore their everyday clothing. Some of the more aggressive players raised their hemlines a few inches for better mobility.

 A Perfect Health Corset Superior to all Others - source: Etching and Engraving Picture File

Corsets: Corsets were in style for centuries. The shapes changed in order to modify the body to conform to whatever idealized figure was in style. The materials changed from iron to steel to whalebone. They were worn by all economic classes and all ages. There were even special styles designed to be worn while sleeping. In the Victorian era girls as young as one year old were put in corsets. They were said to improve a girl’s posture and health, although there is no word on why a boy’s health did not require the same garment.

Panniers: 17th-18th c. The French word pannier translates as basket, and the understructures to support this style were originally made of woven wicker baskets tied to the waist. Doors were reconfigured and armless chairs were designed in response to the fashion.

Cage Crinolines or Hoop Skirts: When metal cage crinolines were patented in 1856 they were an immediate hit. Women were overjoyed with this invention because it meant they could eliminate the six heavy petticoats they had been wearing to achieve the ultra-full skirted look then in style. After the cage was adopted, skirts became even fuller, often using 20 yards of fabric. At the height of their popularity enough steel was produced in Sheffield, England to make half a million hoops in one week. The crinoline knew no class differences and was adopted simultaneously by all, with only the quality of the crinoline material changing. The inflatable rubber crinoline, an attempt to reduce the weight of steel hoops, was a short-lived fad that never really caught on.

Bustles: In the mid to late 19th century the circular hoop skirt shifted until all of the fullness was in the back. This major change in silhouette in such a short time is attributed to the influence of Charles Frederick Worth, the world’s first

Couturier. Professional fashion designers are so central to our understanding of style that it is hard to believe that they’ve only been dominant for a short time. Worth revolutionized the business of dressmaking. He opened The House of Worth in Paris in 1871, and began the custom of presenting seasonal collections of his own designs. He was also the first to put labels into the clothing he manufactured. As other couturiers appeared the desire for new styles became a demand for new styles.

Hobble skirts: During the first decade of the 1900s, just as women began demanding more freedom and equal rights, one of the most restrictive fashions of the twentieth century came into style. This was the hobble skirt, a slim, ankle-length skirt that grew narrower from the hips to the hem. Popular between 1905 and 1910, the hobble skirt was so tight at the ankles that the woman wearing it could only walk in very short steps. Horses are hobbled by tying their front legs together with a short rope to keep them from running away. The hobble skirt was named after this. Women who wore the skirt often wore a special contraption underneath it. The hobble garter was a band made of two loops of fabric attached to each leg just below the knee. The bands were connected by a short strip of cloth preventing the wearer from accidentally taking a normal stride and ripping the fashionable skirt.

Chopines: Developed in the early sixteenth century in Venice, the high-platformed shoe called the chopine had both a practical and symbolic function. It was designed to protect the foot from irregularly paved and wet or muddy streets, but the enhancement of stature also played a role. The wearer literally wanted to stand out in a crowd. The chopine's height introduced an awkwardness and instability in a woman that required her to rely on an attendant to help her walk. While most examples are between three and five inches tall, more extreme versions rose to over 18 inches.

Platform Shoes: 20th and 21st century descendants of the Chopine became fashionable in the 1940’s, 1970’s and the first decade of the 21st century. The silhouettes from each era are remarkably similar.
Xray foot in stiletto - source: Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed by Harold Koda

Stilettos & High Heels: 16th – 21st centuries at various times. High heels were first worn by men in the 16th century to help secure the foot in a stirrup for horseback riding. Women soon adopted them and high heels have cycled in and out of fashion ever since.


How do we strive to stay stylish today? Will anything we wear be considered extreme in 100 years? Compared to the historical fashions pictured here our clothing seems so practical and simple. But maybe there are a few styles that could be questionable in a century or two? A short and highly opinionated list might include some of these.

Washed, distressed and pre-ripped pants. Tattoos. Bikinis too small to swim in. Modifying the body through implants. Logo T-shirts advertising the store that sold you the T-shirt. The idealized bodies of the past, shaped by corsets, padded shoulders, or extreme bustles do look odd. Will future generations question our ideal figure represented by fashion models who are taller than 99% of American women, with an average body mass index officially in the anorexic range?

As new fashions are continually designed our perceptions of beauty will continually adapt. Our pursuit of the next beautiful extreme is the one thing that remains constant.