Become a Library Advocate!

There are many ways to join our efforts in ensuring that San Francisco maintains a superior free public library system. Our members and donors enable us to fund outstanding, free library programs and services. You can also donate your books, which will be passed on for others to enjoy and also help raise funds for the Library.

While financial support of the library is a big part of what we do, Friends also has a long tradition of active citizen involvement. Each week, over 150 volunteers donate their time and energy to help Friends in our office, our bookstores, our book donation center or at special events. Become a volunteer today!

Friends leads advocacy efforts to ensure a first-class library system for the San Francisco Public Library. Passionate citizens are always needed to remind elected officials and community members of the critical role that libraries play in our city.


Our History as Advocates


From 2000 - 2012 Friends led the Neighborhood Library Campaign (NLC), the largest building campaign in San Francisco Public Library history!  Friends raised over $14 million dollars to renovate or rebuild 24 branch libraries. 

Background: The historic Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) was an unprecedented, city-wide project that called for 16 branch renovations, construction of new buildings at three existing branches, the replacement of four leased facilities with city-owned buildings, and the construction of the brand new Mission Bay Branch. Funded by a bond measure that passed overwhelmingly in 2000, BLIP funded the building and renovation of our branches, but the bond did not provide funding for furnishings, fixtures and equipment. Friends’ Neighborhood Library Campaign filled these gap by raising the funds to equip and furnish our libraries.

The Neighborhood Library Campaign provided the much needed furniture, fixtures and equipment for every branch, ensuring that children, teens, adults and seniors all have access to information and programs, a safe community space and the resources to empower 21st century learning.

In each neighborhood, Friends organized a fundraising committee comprised of library supporters, local businesses, parent groups, City Supervisors, school teachers and other members of the community. We raised much of the needed funds at the grassroots level to help build a sense of ownership and neighborhood pride in the Library.  

The last branch to re-open as part of the Neighborhood Library Campaign was the beautiful new North Beach Branch Library in the spring of 2013. Check out our calendar of events for Branch Anniversaries & NLC Celebrations. 


On November 6th 2007, San Franciscans voted overwhelmingly to pass Proposition D and protect our libraries. Libraries are a top priority for our electorate; Prop D received 74.5% of the vote, more votes than any other proposition on the ballot. Over the next fifteen years, Prop D will bring in more than $1.2 billion to the library - without raising taxes.

Prop D asked voters to renew the Library Preservation Fund, which was due to expire in 2008-2009. Passed overwhelmingly in 1994, the Library Preservation Fund created an essential and stable funding source for the library system. The Fund enabled the library to increase operating hours by 53% and expanded the budget for books and materials by almost 400%.  In addition, Prop D grants the City the authority to issue revenue bonds to ensure that the Branch Library Improvement Program can continue to renovate San Francisco’s neighborhood libraries.

Prop D received tremendous support from political and community leaders and associations. Mayor Newsom, Senator Feinstein, Speaker of the House Pelosi, State Senators Migden and Yee, State Assembly members Leno and Ma, the President of the Board of Supervisors Peskin and ten of the eleven Supervisors, plus many more, all supported Prop D. Over 30 organizations endorsed the measure, and Prop D received unanimous endorsements from The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner and The Bay Guardian.

The passage of Prop D ensured that our libraries continued to:

  • Inspire, educate and empower
  • Level the playing field for all; regardless of age and background
  • Be a safe haven for children and families
  • Provide support for under-served communities and the people who need it most
  • Ensure equity among San Francisco neighborhoods and contribute to their vitality
  • Empower business development and long-term success
  • Provide free, high-quality programs and classes
  • Preserve local history
  • Be truly democratic spaces


Friends championed the Library Preservation Fund, or Proposition E, in 1994. The passage of Prop E established 15 years of funding by earmarking a percentage of City revenue for the Library. The Fund has had tremendous affect on our libraries; it enabled the library to increase operating hours by 53% and expanded the budget for books and materials by almost 400%. 


In 1988, Friends realized their long time goal of a new Main Library by championing Proposition A, a bond issue that would fund $109.5 million to build a new Main Library, which opened its doors on April 18, 1996. 


In addition to ballot measures, Friends commissioned a study that outlines the economic benefit of the SFPL.  To read more about the study, click here.


The Neighborhood Library Campaign