San Rafael Public Library

Library Updates

Summer At The Library!

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The summer is upon us. Check out all the fun events we have planned for you here at the San Rafael Public Library!

¡El verano ya llegó! ¡Vea todos los eventos que hemos planeado para usted en la Biblioteca de San Rafael!



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Drag Storytime FAQs

Posted by davagy on

What is Drag Storytime?
Drag Storytime (DS) is just what it sounds like—drag artists (Queens, Kings, Qwings and more) reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and other community spaces. Most events are 45 minutes and designed for children ages 3-7, though this may vary by location or event. A drag artist generally reads 3-4 children’s books, sings children’s songs, and leads children in a craft activity such as making crowns, wands, or paper bag puppets, or sometimes other activities like face painting or dress-up time. 

Through a fun and fabulous literary experience, DS celebrates learning and play, encouraging kids to celebrate gender diversity and all kinds of difference, while building confidence in expressing themselves.  

What is Drag?
Drag is an artistic way of expressing yourself and showing the world who you are or who you want to be. Drag artists often express different aspects of their gender or personality through dressing up, performing, marching in parades, and volunteering in their communities. There are drag queens, drag kings, drag qwings, drag princes, and drag princesses—anyone can be any of the above, regardless of how they identify in everyday life! All that matters is that, when you dress up, you feel comfortable and creative.  

Should I call the drag artist “he,” “she,” “they,” or something else?
You can ask! It’s always OK to ask someone what their pronouns are. Examples of pronouns are “she,” “he,” and “they.” Some people have different pronouns at different times, like when they are in drag and out of drag. Others have the same pronouns all the time. 

Does DS promote an agenda?
Our agenda is simple: we believe that people of all ages should be free to express themselves however they want, free from the constraints of prescribed gender roles. In other words, there’s no such thing as “girl clothes” and “boy clothes,” or “girl toys” and “boy toys.” DS teaches children that there are many ways to express themselves and their gender, and they are all OK.  

Of course, drag is an art form that is rooted in diverse LGBTQ+ communities, and we support equality, justice, and respect for all people—for us, that’s just a given. Given that LGBTQ+ people are present in every community, we believe that children deserve to be exposed to these aspects of our shared history and culture, in age-appropriate ways. Any insinuation that we have an agenda to indoctrinate children misunderstands LGBTQ+ experiences and is rooted in homophobia and transphobia. 

Why is DS important?
DS helps children develop empathy, learn about gender diversity and difference, and tap into their own creativity. DS can also be life-changing and ultimately life-saving for LGBTQ+ kids and teens, kids with LGBTQ+ parents or family members, and anyone who feels different because of their identity or interests or who may not otherwise see themselves reflected in the broader culture. 

Should children be exposed to issues like gender fluidity?
Most children naturally explore gender identity and norms through imaginative play. However, too often gender norms are socially enforced at all age: from the colors or clothes we’re supposed to wear, to the toys kids are allowed to play with, to the kinds of jobs we’re trained for. DS teaches children to follow their passions and embrace gender diversity in themselves and others. This helps to curb bullying of LGBTQ+ kids and kids who may be perceived as different in all kinds of ways. 

Isn’t this confusing for children? What if my children have questions and I don’t know the answers?
Adults don’t always have the answers, but we can ask questions and learn together. There are awesome organizations that provide education to everyone and resources for LGBTQ+ folks and their loved ones, such as Gender Spectrum and the Spahr Center located right in Marin! Like to learn through books? We’ve got you covered with a booklist full of titles to share with your little one! 

 Why do kids love drag so much?
Children and drag artists have a lot in common. They love to dress up and use their imaginations to create awesome looks and express different sides of themselves. It’s no wonder they get along so well! 

¿Qué es la Hora de Cuentos de Drag?

La Hora de Cuentos de Drag es un programa divertido e importante que celebra la diversidad, la forma en que los niños pueden vestirse y actuar. Anima a los niños a mirar más allá de los estereotipos de género y a abrazar la exploración sin las trabas de sí mismos. Programas como La Hora de Cuentos de Drag fomentan la aceptación de la diferencia y ayudan a prevenir la intimidación, a la vez que proporcionan una experiencia literaria agradable.

La Hora de Cuentos de Drag (Drag Storytime en inglés) es exactamente lo que parece: personas vestidas de una manera que exagera el género y que leen cuentos a los niños. Esta lectura de cuentos captura la imaginación y el juego de la fluidez de género desde la niñez y les da a los niños modelos de rol glamurosos y positivos sobre las diferencias de género. En espacios como estos, los niños pueden ver a personas que desafían las rígidas restricciones de género e imaginan un mundo en el que la gente pueda presentarse como quiera y en el que el disfraz sea real.

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Celebrating Pride: Embracing Diversity, Equality, and Love

Posted by davagy on

Pride. It’s more than just a word; it’s a celebration, a movement, and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. As we display rainbow colors and gather in solidarity, Pride becomes a vibrant tapestry woven with the threads of diversity, equality, and love. 

At our library, we join in this celebration by recognizing the importance of Pride and the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ+ rights. We strive to create a welcoming and inclusive space for all members of our community. We believe that diversity enriches us and that everyone deserves to feel accepted and valued for who they are. Throughout Pride Month and beyond, we invite you to explore our collection of LGBTQ+ literature, films, and resources. Whether you’re looking for stories that reflect your own experiences or seeking to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community, we’re here to support you. 

Let’s celebrate Pride together and continue the journey towards a more inclusive and accepting society. Happy Pride Month! 🏳️‍🌈

Pride Month Books for Adults

Pride Month Books for Teens

Pride Month Books for Young Readers

Pride Month Picture Books


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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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Zip Books – Your Library Discovered!

Posted by catherine on

Looking for an item we don't have? Zip Books.

Are you familiar with our Zip Books program? Zip Books is a way for patrons to request books that are not available in our MARINet or Link+ catalogs. The item is free to you and shipped directly to you using Amazon.


  • 1 item request at a time, 5 items maximum per fiscal year (July-June)
  • Items can only be requested that are currently NOT in the MARINet or Link+ catalogs
  • The cost of the item must be $50 or lower
  • Items may be a book, a large print book, or a book on CD—no textbooks
  • Items must be currently available through Amazon (no pre-order items)

How to Order a Zip Book:

Step 1: Fill out the Zip Book Request Form.

Step 2: Library staff will email or call to let you know what day to expect the book to arrive from Amazon or let you know if it is not available. Please contact us at: if you don’t receive your book on the day estimated.

Step 3: Keep the item as long as you want, but in order to request another Zip Book you must first return the one you have. When returning your Zip Book, simply drop it in a return bin at the Downtown, Pickleweed, or Northgate libraries. Please place a note on the book indicating that it is a San Rafael Zip Book. We will mark it as returned so you will be able to order another Zip Book.

Downtown San Rafael Library: 1100 E Street, San Rafael 94901
Pickleweed Library: 50 Canal Street, San Rafael 94901
Northgate Library: Northgate Mall, Suite 083, near the Food Court.

The Zip Books project is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library

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Celebrating the Women in our History 

Posted by davagy on

Mrs. J.S. (Amanda B.) Stratton and the San Rafael Public Library
by Pam Klein

In December of 1884, Mrs. J.S. (Amanda B.) Stratton initiated a Public Library planning committee in San Rafael.  Mrs. Stratton was married to a contractor who specialized in house moving. House moving literally meant that Mr. Stratton would move entire residential or commercial buildings to new locations by land or by water. In 1887, Mrs. Stratton and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union established a Public Library/Coffee Room, in rented space on the upper story of the Francetta Building (4th Street between D and E).   

Mrs. Stratton served as the principal librarian for six months before others stepped in. Membership fees were set at $1 per year. A flower festival was held to raise funds for the new library, featuring cakes and fancywork.  $168 was raised for books and furnishings. Leftover fancywork was sold in the tiny reading room.   

In 1903, the library moved to the old San Rafael High School on E Street. In November of 1906 the Marin Journal published an article praising the library and Mrs. Stratton. 

 “To whom are we indebted for all these literary treasures? The answer might well be printed in large letters —Mrs. Amanda B. Stratton. This noble, generous hearted woman, while other people contented themselves with talking about a public library, went to work and created one. She watched over it in its infancy. We recall the time when it occupied modest quarters on 4th St no larger than a bedroom. Mrs. Stratton never lost faith in the enterprise. Often times when it was in financial straits, she paid for its maintenance out of her own purse… We are glad that Mrs. Stratton who is still in her prime, has lived long enough to see her “pet” library assume its present majestic proportions, a source of incalculable benefit to the rising generation. Let it be her monument for all time! She needs no other. The library will soon be housed in a magnificent $25,000 structure, a generous gift from Andrew Carnegie, plans for which are now being prepared by the architects. A. lot for the building has been purchased and given to the city by several of our public-spirited citizens.” 

On January 9, 1909, the San Rafael Public Library was opened at its present site on E Street between 5th and Mission avenues. Mrs. Stratton died at an Odd Fellows care facility in Thermalito, California on October 20th, 1909. Hopefully, she knew that her hard work had borne fruit. Her obituary (which did not contain her Christian name) read “Mrs. J.S. Stratton was one of the pioneer ladies of San Rafael, who was beloved by a large circle of friends. She was always foremost in doing good work in our city and was the founder of the San Rafael free library. She was the mother of C.C.Stratton, the contractor of this city.” Mrs. Stratton would be pleased to know that one of the library’s charter rules prevents the serving of alcoholic beverages at public events.


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New Storytime Hours!

Posted by davagy on

NEW Schedule for weekly storytime

Join us for songs, rhymes, and stories every week! We host Stay & Play inside the library after each storytime.

Pickleweed Library
Tuesdays, 10:30am (NEW DAY)

Downtown Library (Council Chambers)
Wednesdays, 10:30am (NEW DAY)

Northgate Library (Food Court)
Fridays, 10:30am


Hora de Cuentos ¡NUEVO HORARIO!

Ven y participa en  la hora de cuentos, escucha las historias, canciones y rimas. Después, ¡quedate a jugar!

Biblioteca de Pickleweed
Martes, 10:30am 

Biblioteca de Downtown
Miércoles, 10:30am

Biblioteca de Northgate
Viernes, 10:30am

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New Library Hours – Effective March 4

Posted by davagy on

Please note, the Library hours will be changing temporarily. Starting March 4th, our new hours are | Tenga en cuenta que el horario de la Biblioteca cambiará temporalmente. A partir del 4 de marzo, nuestro nuevo horario es:

Downtown location:

Sunday/domingo 10:00 – 5:00
Monday/lunes 10:00 – 5:00
Tuesday/martes 10:00 – 7:00
Wednesday/miércoles 10:00 – 7:00
Thursday/jueves 10:00 – 5:00
Friday/viernes 10:00 – 5:00
Saturday/sábado 10:00 – 5:00

Pickleweed location:

Sunday/domingo CLOSED/CERRADO
Tuesday/martes 10:00 – 5:00
Wednesday/miércoles 10:00 – 5:00
Thursday/jueves 12:00 – 7:00
Friday/viernes 10:00 – 5:00
Saturday/sábado 10:00 – 5:00

Northgate location (no change | ningún cambio en el horario):

Sunday/domingo CLOSED/CERRADO
Tuesday/martes CLOSED/CERRADO
Wednesday/miércoles 11:00 – 5:00
Thursday/jueves 11:00 – 5:00
Friday/viernes 11:00 – 5:00
Saturday/sábado 11:00 – 5:00


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Winter Closure 2023

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All San Rafael Public Library branches will be closed December 23 – January 1. The Pickleweed Library will be closed through January 6.

Lee en español

Due to the winter holidays, all San Rafael Public Library locations will be closed during the last week of December.

Closed: Saturday, Dec. 23
Re-opening: Tuesday, Jan. 2

Closed: Saturday, Dec. 23
Re-opening: Wednesday, Jan. 3

Closed: Saturday, Dec. 23
Re-opening: Tuesday, Jan. 9

Please note that the entire Albert J. Boro Community Center will be closed through Jan. 6, including the Pickleweed Library.

Q: Will the book drops be open? 

A: The book drops at the Downtown and Pickleweed branches, along with the Lucas Valley Road book drop, will remain open during the closure. Please note it may take up to a few days for your items to be scanned in and taken off your record. SRPL has been fine-free since July 2021 – no late fees will be collected.

Q: What will happen to my holds? 

A: All holds on the shelves when we close will be extended for the length of our closure. No holds will be transferred to or from our libraries during this closure.

Q: Are other MARINet libraries or book drops going to be open? When? 

A: Please check the status of each MARINet library you plan to visit or return items to.


Las Bibliotecas de San Rafael permanecerán cerradas del 23 de diciembre hasta el 1o de enero. La Biblioteca Pickleweed estará cerrada del 23 de diciembre al 6 de enero. 

La Biblioteca Pública de San Rafael y sucursales permanecerán cerradas la última semana de diciembre.

Cerrado: sábado, el 23 de dic
Abierto: martes, el 2 de ene

Cerrado: sábado, el 23 de dic
Abierto: miércoles, el 3 de ene

Cerrado: sábado, el 23 de dic
Abierto: martes, el 9 de ene

La Biblioteca Pickleweed y el Centro Comunitario Albert J. Boro cerrarán sus puertas a partir del sábado 23 de diciembre y reabrirán el martes 9 de enero.

¿Estarán abiertos los buzones para devolver materiales?

Los buzones de las Bibliotecas Downtown y Pickleweed así como el de Lucas Valley Road estarán abiertos durante el cierre. Puede que tome más de un par de días para que sus devoluciones sean registradas en el sistema, ya que a partir de julio 2021 la biblioteca no cobra multas por regresar material atrasado.

¿Qué pasará con mis pedidos?

Todos los encargos permanecerán en los estantes durante el cierre de la biblioteca. Ningún pedido será transferido ni removido a otra biblioteca durante el cierre.

¿Estarán abiertas otras bibliotecas del consorcio de MARINet? ¿Cuándo? 

Visite el sitio web de  MARINet para consultar los horarios y planear su visita. Podrían cambiar los horarios.

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United Against Hate Week 2023

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United against hate week. November 12-18, 2023.

The City of San Rafael commits to standing against all forms of hate in our communities. United Against Hate brings together Bay Area communities every year to reaffirm that commitment.

Acts of hate can be individual as well as institutional. When we witness actions, words, or feelings driven by hate, it is important to stand in solidarity with those who are affected, to amplify voices that may not be heard, and to listen earnestly. When we realize that our institutions uphold values of hate, we must stand together to start the process of change and ensure that it is not hindered by those who benefit from a status quo built on hatefulness and the inequities it spawns.

We encourage everyone to do some reading during United Against Hate Week that opens a new window in your understanding of our communities, or that reframes some of the work you’ve already done to understand how hate impacts everyone, from individuals to groups as a whole. Check out these lists for kids, teens, and adults:

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  • Downtown Library

    Sun: 10:00-5:00
    Mon: 10:00-5:00
    Tues: 10:00-7:00
    Weds: 10:00-7:00
    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

  • Pickleweed Library

    Sun: closed
    Mon: closed
    Tues: 10:00-5:00
    Weds: 10:00-5:00
    Thurs: 12:00-7:00
    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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