As we shelter in place, we are keenly aware of how precious our loved ones and community are to us. First, thank you so much for the work you are doing to stay sheltered and follow the directives of city officials to bring our community through this unprecedented global crisis.
I also know that you care greatly about our beloved San Francisco Public Library and that its closure is difficult. I am writing to update you about how the Library and Friends are responding to the crisis.
What is happening at the Library? All 28 libraries are currently closed to regular business. When they can reopen, we can expect there will be no programming offered outside of basic library services through the end of May. However, the Library is still actively providing critical services to the San Francisco community.
You may have heard that the Library was engaged in a massive effort to convert library buildings into emergency childcare centers to augment childcare capacity for healthcare workers (with distancing protocols). Put on hold after the Mayor’s shelter in place order, it appears that the Library may again be able to activate this program for our heroic healthcare workers and their families. We will keep you posted if the program reopens. Additionally, where possible, Library staff members have been deployed to assist other city departments and community organizations on food distribution and services for our most vulnerable residents.
The Library is also operating as usual in its virtual form. This is an opportune moment to explore its vast offerings of electronic collections and applications. The Library’s IT department has been hard at work ensuring that students, parents, and teachers have access to online resources through the Scholar Card Program and tutoring services through applications like Brain Fuse. Additionally, you and your family can access streaming and eServices, including eBooks, movies, classes, historical documents, etc., for both education and entertainment.
We are grateful for the continued provision of free resources and the public service of our dedicated Library leaders and staff. We are also immensely proud and grateful to all of you who have taken active roles for many years as advocates and donors in supporting the strong public library infrastructure that is making the difference in San Francisco right now.
What is happening at Friends? With our staff working from home, Friends continues to operate in all areas except the Book Program. In line with the Mayor’s and Governor’s shelter in place orders, we have closed the Donation Centers and both the bookstores indefinitely. In the coming weeks, I will be able to provide updates on the Book Program and other book-related events.
Along with promoting the eServices of the Library and providing you with regular updates, Friends is also in the planning process of producing other media, such as a Friends’ podcast series and possibly streaming storytimes by branch Librarians. Please visit our website and our social media channels for updates.
Our work to support and protect the Library continues unabated. In that vein, I want to take this opportunity to tell you about the campaign we have launched for the Library’s future. Below is a podcast that lays out our new Campaign for the Future of the Library detailing how Friends will meet the needs of the Library over the next five years. The podcast is a recording of the presentation made by the City Librarian, Michael Lambert, and myself at the annual Mary Louise Stong Breakfast on Friday, February 7th. This is a great overview of our plans, and you will hear more about it later.
My thoughts and wishes for good health and safety go out to all of you in this unprecedented time of fear and uncertainty. We will make certain that we continue to bring the comforts, joys, and power of the Library to you as best we can.
P.S. Friends will assuredly do all that we can now and be ready for the Library when the crisis is over. Please feel free to support us now if you are moved and if you can. We are truly grateful.