San Rafael Public Library

Library Updates


Posted by davagy on

National Library Week (April 7 – 13) is a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the invaluable contributions libraries make to our communities. 


Roots of Our Library, A Coffee and Reading Room 
by William Calhoun

April 20, 1887, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of San Rafael established a coffee and reading room. A movement that consisted of 60 members, each of whom paid $1 per month for membership. 

On April 30, 1890, the Library Association formally presents the library to the town trustees. The assets: furniture, more than 1,000 books, and $33.50 in the treasury. The Marin Journal proclaims, “It is a matter of congratulation that through the efforts of a few public-spirited women the town is now in a position to maintain a free library. The members of the old Board of Town Trustees deserve special mention for carrying out the will of the people in levying a library tax.” 

Between 1897-1908, after a failed school bond measure in 1897, another measure was sent to the electorate again a year later and passed with the added incentive of having a room in the proposed high school dedicated to the Public Library. Due an increase in operating expenses, it took the Library Trustees four years, until 1903, to complete the move to the E Street High School.  

In December 1904, the City Trustees had resolved to provide operating funds and secure a site for a new library if Mr. Andrew Carnegie would donate the money to erect the building. Fortunately for San Rafael, local resident Judge William W. Morrow served as a Trustee of the Carnegie Institution and was a friend of Carnegie. At a private luncheon Judge Morrow took occasion to complimented Carnegie on his generosity in providing libraries for many cities and towns and remarked casually that San Rafael, Cal., had not yet thus been honored. At that luncheon Mr. Carnegie committed $25,000 to constructing a Library for the San Rafael people. 

January 9, 1909,builders completed construction of the new library at Fifth Avenue and E street. 

From 1909 to the Present, the San Rafael Public Library has continued to grow and expand meeting the educational, recreational, informational, and cultural needs of the people of San Rafael and the surrounding communities. We the library staff thank the City and its citizens for their continued support. 

In honor of National Library Week, here are some ways you can celebrate/participate: 

Thank Library Staff: When you visit your local library, take a moment to express your gratitude to the staff who work tirelessly to provide resources, assistance, and support to library patrons.  

Share on Social Media: Use your social media platforms to share about your favorite aspects of libraries. Whether it’s the diverse collection of books, engaging programs and events, or welcoming atmosphere, sharing your positive experiences can encourage others to utilize and support our libraries.  

Attend a Library Event, check out a new book, or learn about one of the many E-Resources available through the Library!


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  • Downtown Library

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    Thurs: 10:00-5:00
    Fri: 10:00-5:00
    Sat: 10:00-5:00

    (415) 485-3323

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

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    (415) 485-3483

    50 Canal Street
    San Rafael, CA 94901

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    5800 Northgate Drive Ste. 083
    San Rafael, CA 94903

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