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Beyond the Books: Why This San Francisco Public Library Is More Than a Quiet Place

Written by Mike KubaPublished Apr. 29, 2023 • 10:00am

A disabled man whose daily routine is organized around reading the newspaper.

A recent college graduate trying to find a new job after being laid off.

A young unhoused person who seeks a place to get a break from the sun and have somewhere to simply be.

These are just a few of the personalities you might find at the San Francisco Public Library's North Beach branch on any given day.

Perhaps contrary to public opinion, the modern library is not only a place where one goes to check out books or read; it is also an institution that acts as a welcoming refuge to all of the city's inhabitants, and a place where people go to find meaning, cure loneliness and share ideas. The library is also one of the few remaining spaces where an eclectic mix of people may find themselves under the same roof in an increasingly digital society.

In honor of National Library Week, The Standard spent an afternoon at the library branch, where the city's remarkable confluence of citizens is on full display. Watch the video above to hear their stories.

Mike Kuba can be reached at mike@sfstandard.com


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