San Rafael Public Library

Library Updates

Virtual Reality Labs for all ages @ the Libraries

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OCULUS RIFTJoin the Library staff for Virtual Reality Lab time! We invite all ages to explore educational games, beautiful natural environments, and engaging stories using the Oculus Rift. We’ll show you how to use it and help you with the equipment. Just bring yourself and your sense of adventure! Program available courtesy of the CEC Makerspace and the Marin County Free Library, funded by a grant from the California State Library.

  • Pickleweed Library – every Wednesday 3-5pm
  • Downtown Library – every Tuesday 4-6pm (except 10/4, 11/1, 12/6)
  • Downtown Library – Saturdays 10/15, 11/26, and 12/17 – 10am-noon

Questions? Comment below or email See you in virtual reality!


San Rafael residents now have access to streaming movies and audiobooks–free!

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The San Rafael Public Library is proud to now offer access to Hoopla! You can log into Hoopla with your San Rafael Public Library Card and get access to thousands of streaming movies, television shows, music, and audiobooks! No holds, no waiting!

Paying for Netflix, Spotify, or Audible? Check this service out because it could provide you with what you need–courtesy of your local public library! Just make sure you have a library card!

You can also moves seamlessly between different devices – you can listen to or watch something at home and then pick it up later on your smartphone. You can also broadcast Hoopla’s content to Chromecast and Apple TV.

The collection in Hoopla changes from time to time, but here’s a sampling of what’s available to give you a taste of the awesomeness:

  • Disney movies
  • Substantial collections from BBC and PBS
  • Ken Burns specials
  • Comics from Dark Horse, Vertigo, Marvel, and more
  • 2016 award-winning albums
  • Digital box sets of music

If you have any questions about using Hoopla, just pop us a chat (using the little chat widget in the lower right of your screen) or email us at

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Celebrate National Friends of the Library Week at the Friends Store

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Friends of Libraries groups all over the country have their very own national week of celebration! This year it’s the 11th annual National Friends of Libraries Week from Sunday, October 16th through Saturday, October 22nd.

So the plan is – go to the Friends Store between Tuesday, October 18th and Saturday, October 22nd and make a purchase. Your name will be entered into the raffle to win a prize.

The Friends provide great contributions to the community through their support of the Summer Reading Program for all ages, First Wednesday Art Talks, and many other programs. They have purchased books, equipment, furniture, and much more over their devoted years of support. The San Rafael libraries could not do what we do without the support of the Friends.

Support the Library – buy from the Friends Store. You can also show your continued support by becoming a member –  join today!



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How much does the San Rafael Public Library get used?

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We at the San Rafael Public Library are so pleased that our neighbors continue to use the library’s services so heavily. That’s what we’re here for, after all! The library was used more than ever over the last year.

Take a look at our one page report highlighting the most interesting numbers from the last year!

Digital branch use continues to increase by leaps and bounds: the number of visitors to our website is up an astounding 37%, digital resource/database use increased 5%, eBooks and eAudiobooks use increased 13%, followers on Twitter increased 16%, and fans on Facebook (Downtown and Pickleweed accounts) increased 6%.

cupcake celebrationOver the last year we’ve added 13,425 new items to our physical collections (books, audiobooks, DVDs, Blu-Ray, Playaways, etc.). This is a 20% increase in the new items you see on our shelves in only one year!

Have questions? Ideas? Other numbers you’d like to see? Leave a comment here or email us at

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Travel Vicariously for Bookshelf Bingo

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With the Rio Olympics starting on Friday, we thought we’d bring a taste of Brazil to those not planning to go. We also updated our Olympic-themed list from four years ago.

If you’re playing along with our Adult Summer Reading Program, Bookshelf Bingo, then you can use one of these books to complete the square, “Book set somewhere you’ve never been (but want to go).” But hurry, there’s just one month left in the summer program. Don’t miss out on our great prizes and a chance for even better prizes with the bingo raffle!

And if Brazil has never tickled your fancy, then try these lists based on other locales:

Destination: Berlin


Havana Heat: Cuba


London Calling


We’ll Always have Paris


Bon voyage by book! As always, if you want more help finding your next great read, contact us or drop by the library.


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Library Community Needs Assessment Survey / Encuesta de Evaluación de Necesidades Comunitarias de la Biblioteca

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We need your opinion!

The San Rafael Public Library is in the process of setting goals for the next few years for new projects and service priorities. We would greatly appreciate it if you could answer a few questions for us. The survey will take only about five minutes of your time. Fill out the survey in English. Thank you!


La Biblioteca Pública de San Rafael se encuentra en el  proceso de establecer objetivos para los próximos años en cuanto a nuevos proyectos y prioridades de servicio.  Mucho agradeceríamos que nos pudiese responder algunas preguntas. La encuesta le tomará sólo cinco minutos de su tiempo. Encuesta de Evaluación en Español. ¡Gracias!


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Get free one-on-one computer tutoring!

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Book 1-hour sessions with our volunteer tutors at the Downtown Library for help with:

  • computer basics…learn what you need to get started
  • email…stay in touch with family and friends
  • job hunting…learn how to navigate online application forms
  • general web searching…find information on favorite topics
  • let us know what you want to learn so we can tailor your session to your needs

To sign up contact Marilyn Boatright at 415-485-3317 or email:

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She Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts

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Regardless of what you think of the newest Ghostbusters movie, the library can help you find some ghost stories with female leads. Try these books to start:

Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol

Aunt Dimity’s Death, by Nancy Atherton

Fellside, by M.R. Carey

The Ghost of Hannah Mendes, by Naomi Ragen

The Hundred Secret Senses, by Amy Tan

Tamsin, by Peter S. Beagle

Twenties Girl, by Sophie Kinsella

And as an added bonus, even though this does not have ghosts, it does have zombies and a kick-ass female lead…

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance — Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!, by Seth Grahame-Smith

And for even more spooky stories, including those with male leads and non-fiction treatments, see our Ghostly Tales list.

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Birthday Books for Bookshelf Bingo

Posted by diane on

1960s-readerWhat were people reading in the year you were born? Read a blast from the past with these lists of popular and notable books throughout the decades. If you’re playing along with our Adult Summer Reading Bookshelf Bingo, you can complete a square by reading a book published in the decade you were born!

These lists were partially taken from an enormous list, Books of the Century , with best-sellers, historically significant books, and Book-of-the-Month Club selections, which was compiled by Daniel Immerwahr, an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Northwestern University.

We picked ten books from each decade from 1920 through the 1990s. We did not ensure that one book from each year was taken, but rather picked books for a breadth of representation of what a particular decade offered.  I’m sure we missed a few obvious or important choices; let us know what you think!

Books published in the 1920s-1950s:









Books published in the 1960s-1990s:








p.s. You can also find books published in a particular year by looking at the award winners for that year; though technically many awards are given the year after a book was published. See our Fiction Winners and Mystery Winners handouts.

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We have a new library catalog coming!

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We are excited to introduce our new, improved library catalog!

We’ll be switching to the new catalog later this summer, but you can get a sneak peek now. We’d love your feedback!
The new catalog offers lots of exciting new features:

  • Smart Search makes it easier to find what you’re looking for with simpler language (e.g. “new books” or “new dvds”)
  • Browse and discover lists of new titles, best-sellers, staff picks and more
  • One-click holds sent to your preferred pick-up location
  • For Later shelf to keep track of titles you want to read in the future
  • Read or share reviews, ratings and lists with other library patrons

This new catalog, called BiblioCommons Core, will be replacing Encore as our primary public web catalog. We will still have the Classic Catalog available for index-based searchng.

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  • Downtown Library

    Sun: 10:00-5:00
    Mon: 9:00-7:00
    Tues: 9:00-7:00
    Weds: 9:00-7:00
    Thurs: 9:00-7:00
    Fri: 10:00-5:00
    Sat: 10:00-5:00

    (415) 485-3323

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

  • Pickleweed Library

    Sun: closed
    Mon: closed
    Tues: 9:00-5:00
    Weds: 9:00-5:00
    Thurs: 11:00-7:00
    Fri: 10:00-5:00
    Sat: 10:00-5:00

    (415) 485-3483

    50 Canal Street
    San Rafael, CA 94901

  • Northgate Library

    Sun: closed
    Mon: closed
    Tues: closed
    Weds: 11:00-5:00
    Thurs: 11:00-5:00
    Fri: 11:00-5:00
    Sat: 11:00-5:00

    (415) 890-5670

    5800 Northgate Drive Ste. 083
    San Rafael, CA 94903

  • Contact Us

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