San Rafael Public Library

Library Updates

National Friends of the Library Week

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This week, we want to appreciate our Friends of the Library group for all of the work they do. These wonderful volunteers are the ones who take in your generous book donations, organize sales, run the Friends Store on C street, and support all three branches of the San Rafael Public Library.

You might have joined the Friends for their Rare & Special Book Sale earlier this month, or you might be a regular patron of the Friends Store down on C Street – or perhaps you donate like-new books regularly! Please be sure to thank the Friends volunteers the next time you drop off donations with them or pick up a new title at their store. 

Visit the Friends of the Library page to learn more about membership and as well as the guidelines for donations.

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National LGBTQ+ History Month

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Celebrate the history of queer communities in the United States this month! October was chosen to be LGBTQ History Month to honor the Marches on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights that took place in October of 1979 and 1987. On October 11th 1988, exactly one year after the second march, the United States first celebrated National Coming Out Day. Six years later, in 1994, National LGBTQ Month was founded by Rodney Wilson, and this year we celebrate LGBTQ History Month for the 27th year in a row.

While this celebration is relatively new, queer history is not! Historical nonfiction, biographies, and memoirs are all great ways to connect with local and national stories of empowerment and perseverance – check out the following lists to get started, and you can always give us a call or use our chat module if you’d like help finding more titles.

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Banned Books Week

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Every year, Banned Books Week celebrates freedom of information in public libraries. Banning books is censorship, and directly contradicts our mission to provide access for everyone.

Here are the top 10 most challenged books from 2020, per the American Library Association. Check them out – or check out our list of commonly challenged books over time – and celebrate your right to read!

  1. George by Alex Gino. Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote antipolice views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and it included rape and profanity.
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of the author.
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote antipolice views.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience.
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes and their negative effect on students.
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Challenged for profanity, and because it was thought to promote an antipolice message.
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Hispanic Heritage Month

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Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the rich histories and incredible achievements of the Hispanic American and Latinx communities in the United States.

Check out our book list featuring adult novels and our list of teen reads by Latinx authors if you’re looking for your next read, or take a look at the awesome resources – such as online exhibits, historical photos, and fun programs – on the official Hispanic Heritage Month website!

Here are some other fun ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month:

  1. Support a Latinx-owned business in San Rafael
  2. Cook a Latin American dish and share with your friends and family 
  3. Learn about a Latinx public figure
  4. Explore Latin American music 
  5. Learn about Indigenous people in Latin America
  6. Choose a Latin American country and learn about it
  7. How much Spanish do you know? 
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Library Card Sign-Up Month

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Did you know that the San Rafael Public Library is now fine-free? And that there is no minimum age needed to get a library card? Now you know! September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, so if you know someone without a card, spread the word that signing up is as easy as filling out this form. Did we mention it’s free?

Your SPRL card also gives you access to a huge selection of completely free online resources. Do you want to read eBooks? We’ve got tons available through Libby and Hoopla. Are you a big fan of movies? Kanopy has an amazing selection. Want to brush up on that language you started learning? Check out Mango. Online access to newspapers like the Washington Post or New York Times? Our resources have you covered. We also support your research with, Archives Unbound, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, and more.

We also offer Pint-Sized Storytimes online, document preservation via our Memory Lab, 3D printing, drop-in tech support, local park passes, and more, all on our Services page. All you need in order to access any of these resources is your library card number and your PIN. 

(Have we mentioned yet that this is all free? Oh, we did? Well, good things bear repeating!)

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We’re Fine Free!

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In July, the San Rafael City Council approved the elimination of daily fines for adult patrons, and the elimination of the $1 library card replacement fee. The library had already removed daily fines for children’s and youth materials in 2015. These changes to fines and fees will eliminate barriers and improve equity of access for all San Rafael residents. Additionally, the national trend of eliminating overdue fines has been found to not adversely affect the return of Library materials, but instead to increase the use of the Library and its resources.  

Eliminating daily fines will align our practices with many libraries in the greater Bay Area and, most importantly, with the largest library in our consortium, Marin County Free Library (MCFL). A large percentage of San Rafael residents use the Marin County Free Library’s many locations as well as San Rafael Libraries. Being consistent with MCFL policy in this area will reduce confusion in communicating to patrons about this issue. Only San Anselmo and Mill Valley libraries still charge daily fines, so San Rafael users who request books from those locations could incur daily fines if their books are overdue. In addition, patrons will still be required to pay for damaged or lost materials, but the elimination of daily fines will hopefully remove a psychological and economic barrier to access that has previously prevented patrons from fully using all the library resources. 

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WebStars Are Bringing Tech Services to SRPL Branches

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Webstars are back! These tech-savvy teens come to us in partnership with our friends at Marin County Free Libraries. The WebStar Program is designed to empower young people through computer training, opportunities to work with the public in a library setting and participation in internship programs with local technology companies.

They are piloting two services for us:

Drop-in Tech Support
Pickleweed (English & Spanish): Weds & Thurs, 4-6pm
Northgate (English): Sat, 12-4pm
Downtown (English): Sat, 12:30-3:30pm

3D Printing Appointments at Northgate
Saturdays at 12pm & 2pm

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Elections Department Seeks Feedback from Disability Community

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Marin County Registrar of Voters and Disability Rights California invite members of the disability community, family and friends to join a discussion on Marin County’s plan for changing elections in your county!

WHO: This is a public meeting open to all members of the disability community

WHEN: July 28, 2021 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Join us on Zoom: Meeting ID: 986 7226 2073 Password: 860438#

You can also join by: Phone: (669) 900-6833 or Toll free: (833) 548-0276

WHY: Come learn about how upcoming elections will change and give your input on how Marin County can ensure that voting is accessible to all voters.

ASL Interpretation and English captions will be provided for this meeting. For disability accommodations please phone (415) 473-6456 (Voice), CA Relay 711, or e-mail at: by July 23.

More Info

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Getting rid of a book? Let us help you do it properly!

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Is it in excellent or very good condition? Would you see it in a used book store and consider purchasing it as a gift?

Cool book! Call the Friends of the San Rafael Public Library at (415)453-1443 to find out how to donate. Our Friends sell high-quality used books at the Friends Books Store–all proceeds go to fund San Rafael Public Library programs and services!

Or visit for more ideas.

Does it have tears, yellowed pages, mold or is it in otherwise poor condition? Is it about a non-fiction topic that is no-longer relevant?

Sounds like this book has served its purpose and is ready to be properly and lovingly disposed of. By you!

Paperbacks can go directly into the recycling; remove the covers of hardback books before recycling the pages. Visit Marin Sanitary Service to learn more.

Do not leave unwanted books on library premises!

The library does not accept donations of used books; please don’t leave them as it creates additional work for staff and we cannot add them to our collection. Leaving books is illegal dumping and all abandoned items are disposed of.

Just for fun: Do you know what the library does with the books we de-select from our collection?

Our physical collection is confined to buildings, which have a finite amount of space. All libraries weed their collections on a regular basis to make room for fresh materials.

When we de-select a book, we send it to the Internet Archive! There the book is digitized, and made available to people around the world as an eBook! Transcendent, no?

Do you have an Internet Archive virtual card? It’s a great tool for finding any type of book, but especially obscure titles.

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Happy Pride!

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June is Pride month! Join us in celebrating queer authors and queer community. Are you a queer person in Marin of any age looking for community and resources? Visit our friends at the Spahr Center!

Enjoy this fun Drag Storytime from San Rafael Public Library’s own PrinceX Cakes:

Did you catch our 2020 online series, Ask a Queer Adult? Get wisdom and insight from queer folx who span the spectrum of LGBTQ+, as well as the spectrum of “adult”.

Looking for some excellent queer reads to keep you going all summer long? Check-out one of these lists made by staff from MARINet libraries. Shout-out to Corte Madera Librarian Ana for making the bulk of these!

Trans Stories

Nonbinary and Genderqueer Writing

Gay and Queer Men in Fiction

Lesbian and Queer Women in Fiction

Queer Nonfiction, Memoir, and Poetry

Two-Spirit / Queer Indigenous Writing

Pride for Littles: LGBTQ+ Picture Books



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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

    Contact Us
    About the Library
    City of San Rafael
    Library Board of Trustees
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