Summer is here, and the SF Public Library system is gearing up for some all-ages fun including Summer Stride to help you stay on track with your reading goals, and an SFPL Explorer Map where you can collect stickers for each branch you visit.
To help you get started, take a scroll through our list of the most visually stunning public library branches in San Francisco (and save the map at the bottom!) Each of these libraries has public wifi and access to printers, scanners, fax machines, and copy machines. They also have an interlibrary book request system, so if you can’t find a specific volume at one library, you can request it from another one. You’ll need to make an account and get a library card to access the computers.
1. Main Library
The Main Library of San Francisco Public Library is a beautiful building with 4 floors of resources surrounding a bright open lobby area with an iconic spiral skylight. You can rent out a study room or meeting room, or simply set up shop at an available table among the bookshelves. The Poet’s Cafe on the lower level has a full coffee bar and snacks if you need a pick-me-up, and you can purchase books at the small Friends Bookstore inside.
Location: 100 Larkin Street (enter via Grove Street)
The small Ortega Branch library in the Outer Sunset has large windows letting in plenty of natural light, which offer relaxing ocean views on a clear day. In addition to its study room and 20 public computers, the library is topped with a verdant living roof as part of the building’s LEED certification. The building opens onto an expansive patio area where you’ll find the West Sunset Playground, ocean-themed sculptures, and pine trees.
Location: 3223 Ortega St.
The Potrero Hill neighborhood is a hilly one, and as such offers some pretty spectacular SF skyline views which you can see from the top floor of this branch. If you have a green thumb, consider contributing to the community-driven Seed Lending Library, where patrons can select seeds to grow at home and then deliver seeds from the best of their harvest back to the collection. The Potrero Branch is also working to digitize their Potrero Hill Archives Project collection, which includes oral histories and photographs commemorating the history of the neighborhood.
Location: 1616 20th St.
The 100-year-old Presidio Branch of SFPL is a clean, peaceful place to get work done in a lovely historic building surrounded by a quiet park area. They have excellent customer service, a decent amount of outlets, public wifi, several big couches, and some long tables to work at.
Location: 3150 Sacramento St
5. West Portal
The West Portal branch is memorable for its pleasant courtyard area out front, which often hosts performances and small community events. It’s located near the West Portal MUNI station and has solid book selection and programming for children. The WPA-era building was restored and revamped in 2007, with special care taken to retain its original character.
Location: 190 Lenox Way
This library in Bernal Heights has large tables to spread out your study materials, and boasts a pretty solid collection of Spanish language materials. Be sure to check out their monthly programming, which includes an open watercolor studio, an origami club, and a 22-year-old book club. The soft yellow lamps, large wooden tables, and checkerboard floor help to bring a special old-school feel to the study space.
Location: 500 Cortland Ave
This SFPL branch is small but architecturally stunning and worth taking a peek inside. The high ceilings and vaulted windows lend a bright ambiance to the historic building built in 1917, and the cozy space promotes a close neighborhood feel.
Location: 1801 Green St.
The Richmond/Senator Milton Marks branch library is a spacious open renovated space with a good amount of foreign language materials including Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Vietnamese, and more. There’s a spacious grassy area and playground out front, making it a good spot to visit with children.
Location: 351 9th Ave
This smaller library branch is one of the most highly-rated SFPL branches on Yelp. It’s located in a beautiful historic building, and is home to a large collection of Chinese-language materials.
Location: 1305 18th Ave
The Bayview branch’s quiet enclosed courtyard is a best-kept secret that even locals are pleasantly surprised to discover. Take a book to read there in the fresh air without having to leave the building, or snag a comfy couch right next to the window. There’s a good amount of table space for both adults and children under the high lofted ceilings.
Location: 5075 3rd St
Featured image: SF Public Library