San Rafael Public Library

Library Updates

Kickstart Your Reading Plans for 2016

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bookshelvesAbout this time of year organizations all over the place make their “Top Books of 2015 lists.” Here are some of our favorites to help kickstart you reading plans for 2016!

And if you don’t trust the media to tell you what’s great to read, trust your fellow readers! Check out this huge list of “best of 2015” book lists on GoodReads covering pretty much every age group, genre, sub-genre, and interest!

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Need help with your Apple device?

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If you have an Apple computer, iPad, or iPhone, and aren’t sure that you’re getting the most out of it or using it properly, join Beryn Hammil, “chic geek extraordinaire,” to help you figure it out. Her classes are the perfect solution to give you the start you need.

Come and learn the basics and beyond and be on your way to accomplishing what you want in the world of Mac computers, iPads, and iPhones. In each of these classes you’ll learn how to navigate, customize, and function effectively.

And if you need more help than this, Beryn offers 15 minute, one-on-one trainings after class at 3:00, 3:15, 3:30, & 3:45 to answer your specific questions. For a one-on-one appointment ask at the Reference Desk or call 415-485-3321.

Each meeting will be on specific Apple topics:

Jan 7 – Mac & MacBook Air
1 – 2 pm Basics
2 – 3 pm Beyond the Basics

Jan 14 – Newcomers to Apple for the Absolute Beginner
2 – 3 pm iPhones and iPads

Jan 21 – iPhones
1 – 2 pm Basics
2 – 3 pm Beyond the Basics

Jan 28 – iPads
1 – 2 pm Basics
2 – 3 pm Beyond the Basics

March 17 – iPhones
1 – 2 pm Basics
2 – 3 pm Beyond the Basics

March 24 – iPads
1 – 2 pm Basics
2 – 3 pm Beyond the Basics

April 14 – Mac & MacBook Air
1 – 2 pm Basics
2 – 3 pm Beyond the Basics

April 21 – iPhones
1 – 2 pm Basics
2 – 3 pm Beyond the Basics

April 28 – iPads
1 – 2 pm Basics
2 – 3 pm Beyond the Basics

Check back for more dates after April.

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The NEW SAT: Practice Test, Saturday Jan. 9th, 10am-2pm

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The library, in collaboration with C2 Education, is offering the New SAT and ACT practice tests, and a college essay writing workshop, to assist today’s students preparing for college admission.

Seating is limited, please call 415-485-3321 to reserve a seat.

The New SAT: Practice Test
Saturday, January 9, 2016
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

ACT: Practice Test
Saturday, January 23, 2016
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The College Essay: A Writing Workshop
Saturday, February 20, 2016
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

All classes take place in the Library Meeting Room, 1100 E Street, San Rafael

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10 Things You May Not Know You Can Do at the Library for Free

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Sarah Houghton, Library DirectorHi! This is Sarah, the Library Director here. My mother took us to the public library a lot when we were children. I remember flipping through picture books, and then later chapter books–carefully choosing the five items I was allowed to check out at a time. Libraries were a magical place with more books than I could ever hope to read. When I was in middle school, a trip to our branch library revealed a brand new collection–music cassette tapes! I was blown away! I had no ideas libraries could have more than books and then started checking out music and books together. Then came computers, CDs, wifi…on and on.

Libraries often have resources that we don’t think they will have. Here are the 10 best things your San Rafael Public Library has that you just might not know about. Best thing about all of them? They’re free to you with your library card.

(1) Download eBooks from one of our eBooks collections including thousands of new bestsellers for every age group. And yes, they work on the Kindle 🙂

(2) Place a hold on almost any material and have it delivered to a library branch of your choice–anywhere in Marin!

(3) Print out free and discounted museum and zoo passes using Discover and Go. Tons of places all over the bay area, just waiting to be explored!

(4) Attend free classes on topics such as job skills and how to download items from the library’s collection to an e-reader or smart device. Last year the two locations of the San Rafael Public Library offered more than 1,400 programs with a total attendance of 35,000.

(5) Access ‘s library of instructional videos teaching business, technical & creative skills. Thousands of courses with tens of thousands of video tutorials.

(6) Learn a new language using Mango, online language-learning services covering dozens of languages.

(7) Research your family history with the library’s subscription to No need to pay for your own subscription–just come into one of our two libraries and use ours for free for as long as you like.

(8) Borrow 50 books, 5 books on CD, 15 DVDs, and 10 music CDs at a time — the limits per card. You better bring a big bag to tote that home in!

(9) Let us bring the library to you. Outreach Services brings the library experience to a person who is home-bound, in senior housing, living with disabilities, living in transition, etc.

(10) Read digital versions of current magazines using Zinio. There are hundreds of magazines to view on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

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Learn All About Nighttime at STEAM Saturday, 12/5 at 11-11:45am

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This Saturday our preschool STEAM program will focus on all things nighttime – nocturnal animals, stars and constellations, and more! Kids aged 3-6 and their caregivers will learn through creative and sensory experiences. We’ll play a sorting game, listen to the sounds of nighttime, and make glow-in-the-dark fireflies.

Join us at 11am this Saturday, 12/5. Families can reserve their spot by stopping by the Children’s Reference Desk, or give us a call at 415-485-3322.

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Help Yourself with our Amazing Free Self Help Financial and Legal Resources

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Are you interested in learning more about managing your personal finances or navigating confusing tax laws? Or perhaps you’re interested in learning more about a particular legal topic- whether it’s fighting a ticket or communicating with a landlord:

If these topics interest you, we have an excellent database available to San Rafael Public Library card holders called the Legal Information Reference Center (LIRC):


LIRC is  full of self-help legal eBooks and guides and you can access them in the library or remotely using your library card number. Most importantly, the materials in this database are full-text and written in plain language!


To browse the Legal Information Reference Center, please visit the library or, from home,  have your library card handy and visit our eBooks page here: 



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Virtual Author Talks @ the Library!

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Did you miss the Virtual Author Talk by the author of The Martian, Andy Weir? No worries! You can catch the recording on The Library Talks website.  The Library Talks is a state-wide series of programs which brings authors to California libraries through shared virtual visits. Join us for these free live video events, featuring best-selling authors!

These are live streamed video programs. The authors will NOT be present in the library, it is being broadcast live over the internet. Questions can be submitted during the talk, or you can tweet a question before or during the event using the hashtag #libtalks. This free event will take place in the Library Meeting Room utilizing the library’s large screen TV.

We hope to see you at one of these exciting events!

Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 pm- ANDY WEIR

Andy Weir is the author of the best-seller The Martian. He’ll talk about his book, the new movie based on his book, and all things Mars. A software engineer and lifelong space nerd, Andy originally self-published The Martian on his blog before making it available on Amazon, where it became a runaway sensation and was picked up by Crown Publishing. Andy lives in the Bay Area.

Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 6:30 pm- ANN LECKIE

leckieAnn Leckie is the author of the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Award winning novel Ancillary Justice. She has also published short stories in Subterranean Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Realms of Fantasy. Ann has worked as a waitress, a land-survey rodman, and a recording engineer. She will talk about her groundbreaking trilogy, spaceships, and what’s next in science fiction. She lives in St. Louis, MO.

Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 6:30 pm- TESS GERRITSEN

Gerritsen w Cover-webTess Gerritsen, author of the Rizzoli & Isles medical suspense series, joins us for a discussion about murder, romance, and dark secrets. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D. While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

The Library Talks series is coordinated by the Mountain View Public Library and is supported by a grant from the Pacific Library Partnership. Visit them online at @thelibrarytalks


Read a Winner

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Brief-JamesCongratulations to the 2015 Man Booker Prize winner, Marlon James, for his book A Brief History of Seven Killings!

The Man Booker Prize goes to the best literary fiction written in English, as voted on by a panel of five judges. Originally limited to authors from the United Kingdom & Commonwealth, the Man Booker was recently expanded to include any author writing originally in English and published in the UK.

This year’s Man Booker winner offers a fictionalized oral history recounting assassination attempts on Bob Marley during the late 1970s in Jamaica. Mr. James is the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker. The Chair of this year’s judges, Michael Wood, says of the book: ‘It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.’

To see past winners of the Man Booker, National Book Award, and Pulitzer see our Fiction Winners handout.

National Book Award

While you’re on the wait list for this year’s Man Booker winner, why not get ahead of the game and read on of the books short-listed for next month’s National Book Award. Here are library links to explore the Adult Fiction and Adult Nonfiction nominees.


Natl Bk Awrdk-Fiction


Karen E. Bender, Refund
Angela Flournoy, The Turner House
Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies
Adam Johnson, Fortune Smiles
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

Natl Bk Awrd-NF


Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Sally Mann, Hold Still
Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus
Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink
Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light

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NEW! Zinio Digital Magazines!

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Browse the library’s newest collection of popular magazines in digital format.

  • Magazines are full color digital versions of the print magazine, with the same layout and ads
  • View or download magazines on your computer or mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and Blackberry playbook)
  • Free Zinio app for mobile devices
  • Back issues are available for many titles.
  • Available to all Marinet library cardholders.

From the library home page, click on the Research tab, scroll to the Newspapers and Magazines heading and click on the Zinio link.



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A Nod to Nordic Noir

Posted by diane on

935308Henning Mankell, whose Wallander mystery series paved the way for the legions of atmospheric Nordic tales available in translation today, died recently from cancer.   Faceless Killers was the first in his series featuring the personally troubled, yet professionally astute, police inspector Kurt Wallander. Set in the icy grey environs of Sweden, the book took the average police procedural and expanded it with its fully fleshed-out characters and a story that confronts racial prejudice against refugees.

BranaghThe Wallander series spawned not just one, but two faithfully rendered yet surprisingly different television iterations. The first, from his native Sweden, premiered in 2005 and starred Krister Henriksson in the title role. Its strong suit is the rich supporting cast who are flawed but utterly humane. The BBC came out with an English-language series in 2008, with Kenneth Branagh upping the melancholia and bringing more psychological intensity to the role.

borgenFor more Nordic dramas of the gloomy and gritty variety, try these: The Eagle is a Danish production about the cunning yet tormented police officer Hallgrim Halgrimsson and his colleagues at a newly established international criminal investigative unit. Inspector Irene Huss is a wife and mother of teenage girls, in addition to being in charge of solving violent crimes. Then there’s Borgen, featuring high-stakes political drama and intrigue in Denmark.

nesboTurning back to books, our Nordic Noir booklist will point you to more moody mysteries from the northern ends of Europe. Among those featured is Jo Nesbo’s Oslo police detective Harry Hole, an alcoholic on a downward spiral who has a knack for solving gruesome serial crimes. If you want the brooding yet effective detective without the Nordic setting, also try Ian Rankin’s Scottish Inspector John Rebus, or Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series set in Los Angeles.

italianmankellLastly, if you haven’t read Mankell’s work outside of his Wallander series, do give it a try. He consistently shows a knack for evocative settings and complex characters. One example of this is his book Italian Shoes, about a surgeon who goes into self-exile on an island north of Sweden. It’s a reflective, moving tale of redemption and mortality.

Feel free to stop by the library, call, or contact us for more personalized viewing and reading recommendations!

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  • Downtown Library

    Sun: closed
    Mon, Tues, Weds: 10-4
    Thurs: 12-6
    Fri & Sat: 10-4

    (415) 485-3323

    1100 E Street (at 5th Avenue)
    San Rafael, CA 94901

  • Pickleweed Library

    Sat, Sun & Mon: Closed
    Tues: 10-4
    Weds & Thurs: 12-6
    Fri: 10-4

    (415) 485-3483

    50 Canal Street
    San Rafael, CA 94901

  • Northgate Library

    Sun, Mon, Tues, Weds: Closed
    Thurs, Fri, Sat: 12-4

    (415) 524-2694

    5800 Northgate Drive
    San Rafael, CA 94903

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