April 1, 2014
Librarian Q&A: San Francisco Public Library
by Claire Kelley
Last month, on my West Coast library tour, I stopped at the circulation offices of the San Francisco Public Library, located just a few blocks from the main branch across from Civic Center Plaza. I spoke to two librarians, Blaine Waterman and Dale Jenne, and we discussed their roles at the library, their favorite genres to read, why the San Francisco Public Library is unique, and why libraries are so important.
This is part of a series of conversations with librarians in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara.
Claire: What are your responsibilities at the San Francisco Public Library?
Blaine: I order non-book things like DVDs, CDs, and audio books, as well as current popular print titles with a lot of holds.
Dale: I order adult non-fiction for the San Francisco Public Library branches.
Claire: How is the San Francisco Public Library unique?
Blaine: We have a significant population of Asian Americans in our city, and so we have impressive Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese collections.
Claire: What kinds of books do you like to read personally?
Blaine: I read fantasy, science fiction, biographies, and history.
Dale: I have a two year old, so I read a lot of parenting books. I also like to read trashy biographies.
Claire: What are some programs or initiatives at the San Francisco Public Library that you’re particularly excited about?
Blaine: We have literacy programs for adults at the main library. This is important due to the high illiteracy rates — 20 to 30 percent of our population — in San Francisco. We also offer computer and financial literacy training.
Dale: I’m really excited about our maker spaces initiatives. We have a 3D printers and mothly LEGO nights.
Claire: Why are libraries important?
Blaine: What’s true now, even more than 10-15 years ago, is that libraries are the only physical spaces where you can go browse books, music, and magazines. Borders and the Virgin Megastore are closed. I hope that changes, but the challenge with Amazon pushes against it.
Dale: Libraries are one of the few institutions left where you can go and get your questions answered for free without having to buy anything.
Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.