Greetings! We miss you, and we miss our Library. Communicating and connecting is so important right now and we hope our regular newsletters and emails have kept you informed about the status of the San Francisco Public Library and of Friends. We write today with a positive message: The Library is resilient; Friends is sustaining itself strategically; and the partnership is prepared for the future with an even stronger, more responsive Library that is prepared to meet any new challenges we might face.
We are proud of the Library’s role as a key partner in San Francisco’s response to COVID, as well as its recent action to open air respite centers in response to the West Coast wildfires. However, we are all anxious for our libraries to reopen and provide their core operations. As the community’s advocate for Library services, we assure you that we are monitoring developments and advocating for the safe reopening and resumption of all Library services and programs when possible.
In the meantime, our SFPL is once again demonstrating its excellence in innovative response. The following is a summary of current Library services:
Materials. SFPL To Go, front-door service for real books and media, is open at the Main Library and five branches (Excelsior, Marina, Mission Bay, Merced, and Eureka Valley) with more branches scheduled to open in October. Pop Up Pick-up service using the bookmobiles will also be dispatched to ensure more neighborhoods have access to books and materials.
eResources. Thanks in large part to the Friends community and the Library Preservation Fund, SFPL already has the largest eCollection of books, media, and technology applications of any urban public library. Use of eResources had skyrocketed by 60%.
Virtual programming continues to expand in priority areas of children’s literacy, school support, job search, career development, technology, ESL, and literary and cultural events. Friends continues to fund the authors, artists, experts, and materials for these new and evolving programs.
Citywide emergency response. SPFL staff continue to play critical roles in coordinated, citywide responses to COVID and wildfires. Designated branches will open as community hubs providing schoolchildren K-5 with access to free Wi-Fi, meals, and emotional support, while schools are physically closed. The Richmond Branch will be the first to open. While hundreds of Librarians have returned, many continue working in food distribution centers and as contact tracers helping to keep infections down.
Friends is in Good Health (thanks to you)
This year has presented us with complex decisions, as it has with community organizations holding fast to their missions. We are happy to report that Friends ended its 2019–2020 fiscal year in good health, thanks to our donors who helped us meet our fundraising goals. Sadly, we also had to implement cost-cutting measures, including closing the Fort Mason bookstore and laying off beloved staff, actions that no organization ever wants to take. We did not make these decisions lightly and share in the mourning of these losses. We are keenly aware of the challenges and economic uncertainty that lay ahead; and we are going to need your strong, ongoing financial support. Our responsibility is to advocate for you and to stay financially healthy as the caretaker for our beloved SFPL. Thank you so much for your support. We are profoundly grateful.
And what of the future of the SFPL…
Campaign for the Future of the Library
As many of you know, we entered 2020 unveiling our $10 Million Campaign for the Future of the San Francisco Public Library. The Campaign called for an infusion of support through 2023 to fund furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) for the renovations of the Mission, Chinatown, and Oceanview branches; ensure the renewal of the Library Preservation Fund (voter-mandated library funds); and, double the direct support for the SFPL to over $2 million annually. We are still pursuing this campaign, albeit slightly modified. Our adapted plan retains our ambitious commitment to double the direct annual support, ensures the renewal of the Library Preservation Fund in 2022, and funds the FF&E for the Mission Branch renovation (which remains on schedule). Current challenges have forced a reassessment of the timeframe for the remaining two branch projects. We will keep you informed and invite you to take part as plans unfold. Meanwhile, we can look forward with anticipation to our next Library Laureates gala at the Main.
The Book Program
While we weather this trying period, we look forward to planning a new future for our book program as well. At this time, we can only operate online. We have increased stock in our online stores and have begun to sell new books by authors featured in SFPL programs (Fresh Prints of the SFPL). Our book donation services have reopened on a limited basis, by appointment only. When we can sell books face-to-face again, we will look to you for inspiring ideas: A new bookstore? A retooled Big Book Sale? New book-loving events? In the next few weeks, members of our Board and staff will try to reach out and talk to as many of you as possible to see how you are feeling and to chat about our great Library. If you have comments, suggestions, or questions, please feel free to send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please stay safe and thank you so much.