Join us for the Northern California Book Awards!

CA Book Awards_Tom KillionCelebrate the Bay Area’s vibrant literary scene this month with the 35th Annual Northern California Book Awards, co-sponsored by Friends! This event recognizes the best published works of 2015 and celebrates Northern California authors. Berkeley eco-feminist author Susan Griffin will be honored with the Fred Cody Award for lifetime achievement and service. The NCBR Recognition Award will be presented for California’s Wild Edge: The Coast in Poetry, Prints and History by Tom Killion, Gary Snyder and Heyday Books.

We will be book-selling up a storm after the event!

When: Sunday, May 15, 2016 / 1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Where: Koret Auditorium / Main Library / 100 Larkin St.



Thursdays at Readers: Boadiba & Neeli Cherkovski

Join us every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in our Readers Bookstore Fort Mason for our weekly FREE poetry series! Browse books and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to internationally acclaimed poets and artists such as Jonathan Richman, David Meltzer, Diane di Prima and California Poet Laureate Al Young. The series is  curated by Friends’ Resident Poet Jack Hirschman. For a full line-up and more information please visit the Event Calendar on our website.

Proceeds from our bookstores benefit the San Francisco Public Library

This Thursday, April 21st, we are excited to have Boadiba & Neeli Cherkovski read!

imgresBoadiba is a Haitian poet and translator whose work has appeared in many publications and anthologies including Konch Magazine, Tribes, Malpais and volumes one and two of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade compilation. Short stories from her unpublished collection, Tales of Lust and Sorcery were featured in Konch and Left Curve.  Her collection of poetry, UNDER BURNING WHITE SKY was the basis for a one woman show performed at Live Oaks Theater in Berkeley. She is known for linking original poetry to traditional sacred songs of Haitian Vodou and story- telling in the traditional Haitian style; she has performed at the Reader’s Café, the Emerald Tablet, the Poetry Archives at SF State University, the Museum of African Diaspora, Yoshi’s and the Jazz Center in SF, at the Oakland Library, at Barnes and Noble in Emeryville, at the Gallery Lakay Literary Salon in Los Angeles, at the Miami Book Fair and at Tribes Gallery and the Shomberg Library in New-York.

By Boadiba

From my perch on the balcony looking down at neighbor’s yard

I see it’s lost its beauty

It’s hot and dry and dusty

And so is neighbor’s body.

Life’s carried him away

He has no will to weed

He has no way to water

He has no strength to plant.


I fill a big bucket and carry it on my head

To give each plant a drink

I cut off the dead things

And shore up the young tree

That’s almost lost its leaves


Now when I look down from the balcony

New leaves, little green plants, tiny star flowers

And this afternoon I saw neighbor

Bending over an unexpected bloom

Neighbor taking in the fragrance

Of a volunteer flower.



Thursdays at Readers Poetry Series: Miguel Robles & Karen Melander Magoon

Join us every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in our Readers Bookstore Fort Mason for our weekly FREE poetry series! Browse books and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to internationally acclaimed poets and artists such as Jonathan Richman, David Meltzer, Diane di Prima and California Poet Laureate Al Young. The series is  curated by Friends’ Resident Poet Jack Hirschman. For a full line-up and more information please visit our website:

Proceeds from our bookstores benefit the San Francisco Public Library

This Thursday, April 21st, we are excited to have Miguel Robles and Karen Melander Magoon read!


Artisan, poet and an activist, Miguel Robles was born in Mexico City, he studied art history, silversmithing, and creative writing. He has been influenced mainly, by a wide range of jobs experiences and his permanent involvement in different social struggles related to globalization, democracy, human rights and currently focused in environment and food justice. He has founded several organizations and launched successful campaigns of great social impact.

After lived in diverse environments and traveled for many years in Mexico, he is residing in San Francisco California since 2002.

A graduate of Indiana University with a Masters from Boston University and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, Karen Melander Magoon sang major roles in opera theaters throughout Europe, including Marguerite in Faust, Norina in Don Pasquale, Rosina in Barber of Seville, .  She has sung jazz since she was thirteen with her brother in Stockton, later in Vienna, Austria and San Francisco and composed and performed musicals about Clara Barton, Georgia O’Keeffe and Lillie Langtry. This summer Karen did Aegean and Dr. Pinch in Comedy of Errors with SVS and Dry-Five, Stories about the California Drought.  She has always written poetry and songs, even as a two-year old at Rhythm Class in Seattle Washington, where a teacher penned her first lyrics and melody.

Poetry below

Read more »

Poets 11 Returns: Open Submissions!

SF_Districts_color_neighborhoods-2012Poets, get your pens— we’re pleased to announce Poets 11: 6th Edition!  Our citywide poetry contest and reading series collects poems from every San Francisco neighborhood and features poetry readings at branch libraries in each of the City’s 11 districts.

Submissions open now through June 15th, 2016

Local poets are encouraged to submit up to three poems.  Poetry is chosen by poet-in-residence Jack Hirschman and selected poets are announced at each SFPL branch event.  All types of poetry are accepted.  Writings which reflect San Francisco’s diversity of language and culture and those written in languages other than English are highly encouraged.

Selected poets will be presented with a $50 honorarium and their poems will be published in an anthology.  Now in its sixth iteration, Poets 11 continues to celebrate San Francisco’s rich literary life and thriving poetry community.

Beginning this summer, selected poets will take the microphone and share their works in a variety of languages and topics.  Eleven events will take place at branch libraries, concluding with a final event featuring all participating poets at the Main Library’s Koret Auditorium in the fall.


  • Must be 18 or over to participate.
  • Must reside in one of San Francisco’s 11 Districts.
  • Submissions must include a return address, email or phone number and district number for response.
  • The deadline for all submissions is June 15th, 2016.

Poets can submit up to three poems by email to:

or by mail to:

Readers Bookstore Fort Mason
ATTN: Poets 11
2 Marina Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94123

To download the submission form please visit our website here.

For more information please call (415) 626-7500 or email

Spring Big Book Sale: Success!

Spring Big Book Sale_Member Preview Line Thank you to all of our volunteers, members, book donors, sponsors and shoppers for making our 6th Annual Spring Big Book Sale a slammin’ success. The sale brought in over $200,000 for the San Francisco Public Library!

Our favorite thing about putting on the West Coast’s largest used book sale is that proceeds support learning & literacy at SFPL. Our second favorite thing?  Watching all you book lovers give hundreds of thousands of items a new home! This year social media was flooded with photos of finds & the Festival Pavilion – check them all out on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and tag us in pictures of your loot: @FriendsSFPL #BigBookSaleSpring Big Book Sale Instagram Screenshot

Did you miss out on the sale? Are you already hankering for more? Save the date for the 52nd Fall Big Book Sale: September 21 – 25, 2016! It’s never too early to become involved and ensure that our next sale is as big of a success: donate your items, become a volunteer or consider sponsoring our sale.

Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Main Library

SF-Public-Library-MainTwenty years have passed since the San Francisco Main Library first opened its doors to great acclaim on April 18, 1996, and the anniversary is being celebrated with more than 20 lively programs, events and exhibits!

In 1988 Friends championed Proposition A, a bond issue that funded $109.5 million to build the new Main Library. The Main Library represents the largest public/private partnership in the history of San Francisco, thanks to Friends.

Today, the Main is busier than ever, greeting more than 1.8 million visitors each year, and checking out close to two million items. The Main Library is open more than 3,000 hours a year.

SFPL Main Library Dancers

Photo by Brian Castagne

Join us on Monday, April 18th at the Main for live music, refreshments, performances and book selling by Friends! The event begins at 12:30 p.m. on the Larkin Street steps of the Main Library. In honor of the original 1996 opening events, the anniversary celebration will feature a performance by BANDALOOP, a pioneer in vertical performance.

Additional Events:

April 12: The Matter of Black Lives will feature comedian and activist Sampson McCormick, poet Amanda Johnston, and social justice activist and popular culture scholar and writer Shawn Taylor, who will discuss their views on the current state of Black America. Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 6 p.m.

April 13: A distinguished panel of architects (including our Board Chair, Charles Higueras!) will discuss Twenty Years: A Renaissance of Library Architecture. Learn how architecture reflects the evolution of library services with Marsha Maytum, Mark Schatz, Cathy Simon, John King, and Charles Higueras. Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 6 p.m.

April 26 and 28: Save Your Stuff and Pass it On. Learn how to preserve your precious personal memories and archives. Books & Paper, April 26; Photos: April 28. Main Library, Latino/Hispanic Community Room, 6 p.m.

Selected Exhibitions:

Animal House: Anthropomorphic Selections from the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit and Humor. Have some fun with an exhibition showcasing animals behaving like humans in cartoons, comics and literature from artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. April 1 – May 31, Main Library, Skylight Gallery. (see also:

Queerest.Library.Ever. #Hormelat20. Selected items are drawn from the Hormel LGBTQIA Center from its archival collections of personal papers and organizational records, including rare posters, photographs, correspondence, documents and objects. April 16 – Aug. 7, Main Library, Jewett Gallery, Skylight Bridge, and Hormel Center, plus Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch. (see also:

Main Library at 20. Exhibition includes original blueprints, photographs, reports, press packets, and newspaper accounts from the planning, construction and opening of the Main. April 18 – June 30, Main Library, San Francisco History Center.


Lovin’ Our Library Laureates: Colin Winnette


Colin Winnette, Eli Horowitz, Rachel Khong, Andi Winnette

Colin Winnette with Eli Horowitz, Rachel Khong and Andi Winnette at the 2016 Library Laureates Gala

Last month we brought back the Library Laureates Gala and celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Main Library  with 35 of our favorite authors. This month we had the pleasure of catching up with Library Laureate Colin Winnette!


Photo By Jennifer Yinn

Colin is the author of Revelation, Animal Collection, Fondly, Coyote, and Haints Stay. Coyote won Les Figues Press’s NOS Book Contest, and Haints Stay was listed as a 2015 “Best Book of the Year” by Flavorwire, Litreactor, Largehearted Boy, and Slate. Coyote was listed as a 2015 “Best Book of the Year” by Flavorwire and the Washington Independent Review of Books.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished a book by Victor Pelevin called The Hall of the Singing Caryatids, which was excellent. I might read Danielle Dutton’s Margaret the First next.

Which poet of past would you most like to share a drink with?

Blake? No, wait. Probably not Blake.

 Last item you checked out from a library:

The Mephisto Waltz by Fred Mustard Stewart and Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald.

How do you envision libraries in the future?

Expanding to account for the various new ways we’re consuming stories and information, while staying connected to and supporting the structures that served and serve as critical foundations for these new modes.

Who were you excited to meet during Library Laureates?

Honestly, I was excited to meet most of the people there. I’m an enormous fan of Percival Everett’s work, which made me too nervous and awkward to actually strike up a conversation with him. But I was thinking about how to do it most of the night.

What projects are you working on right now?

A new novel and a collection of stories, both of which are very strange.

Favorite bookstore:

In San Francisco I love The Booksmith, my old stomping grounds. Also, Green Apple Books & Music, of course. There’s a bookstore called Recycled Books in my hometown (Denton, Texas) that is a sprawling three stories of books. It’s dusty and fantastic. Because there’s a university or two in town and it’s a pretty progressive place (for Texas), the selection there is topnotch and always changing.

Favorite San Francisco Public Library Branch Library:

I’m in the Mission, so I use the Mission Branch most of the time. But I do love the feel of walking around the Main Library.

Where do you write?

In my office or at the kitchen table. However, I used to work at the Asian Art Museum and I would sometimes spend my lunch breaks over in the Main, writing in the poetry stacks. There is nothing quite like walking the stacks and just randomly looking through lines/poems in books you might never have otherwise seen. Among many other things, that unique experience and source of inspiration is something the San Francisco Public Library gave me that I will never forget.

To learn more about Colin please visit his website at Stay tuned for our interview with Library Laureate Brian Christian!

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Nick Friedman, Festival Outreach Coordinator for the SF Film Society

Thank you to all of our Spring Big Book Sale sponsors and group volunteers for contributing to the success of our sale! A very special thanks  to Amoeba, Flax and the San Francisco Film Society for helping to spread the word. Check out Flax’s 2 new locations (they’re our neighbors in Fort Mason Center and just opened up in Oakland!) and save the date for the 59th International San Francisco Film Festival.

Are you interested in sponsoring our 52nd Fall Big Book Sale? Supporting our sale through sponsorship is a great way to become involved in the community and get the word out about your event or business. For more information please email

Spring Big Book Sale Sponsor Logo Screenshot


6th Annual Spring Big Book Sale Table Sponsors:
Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria, Amoeba Music,  Autodesk,  The Beat Museum, BRYR, Custom Eyes Optometry, Flax Art & Design, Goody Cafe, Green Apple Books & Music, Greens Restaurant, I.S. Logistics, The Leakey Foundation, LexisNexis, The Long Now Foundation, Magic Theatre, MTP Architects, One Brick, PBA Galleries,  Safeway, The San Francisco Film Society, Scholar Strategies, Camilla & George Smith,  Mikiko Huang & Marshall Stoller,Gino & Wendy Rinaldi, Zephyr Architects.


6th Annual Spring Big Book Sale Group Volunteers Provided By:
Autodesk, International High School, LexisNexis, One Brick, SFSU Alpha Phi Omega, Mu Zeta Chapter, SFSU Beta Alpha Psi – Beta Chi Chapter, Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society, USF Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Epsilon Nu, USF NSA Community Service, Wells Fargo Leadership Pipeline Program, Wiley & Sons. A special thank you to Shiftboard for keeping us organized during our sale!

The Artist is Present: Big Book Sale Poster Signing with Illustrator Wayne Shellabarger!

Wayne's PortraitWayne Shellabarger is one of our favorite Bay Area artists, and we’re thrilled to have him join us this Sunday, April 3rd during our 6th Annual Spring Big Book Sale to sign posters!

Over the last two years, Wayne has illustrated & designed 4 posters for our Annual Spring and Fall Big Book Sales and the surge in popularity that our Big Book Sales have seen during this time span is in no small part to the talent and vision of Mr. Shellabarger.

We’re selling all 4 designs for only $10 each, or $20 for the collection! Come on down this Sunday, collect all 4 and meet the man behind these fabulous designs.




InterviewBig Book Sale Posters_ All Four with Wayne, originally posted on August 14th, 2015:

Wayne has illustrated numerous covers and articles for the San Francisco Bay Guardian (RIP) and has illustrated and designed the promotional posters for the 20th Anniversary of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Wayne also designs the calendars and posters for the I Wake Up Dreaming Film Noir Festival.

His rock posters from the ’90s were published as “I’m Totally Helpless!” and he illustrated a book on the history of the U.S. Vice Presidents called, “Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance”, both published by Top Shelf Productions. He also illustrated Music We Like, the Amoeba Music shopping guide, from 1999-2013.

Favorite San Francisco library branch
I check out books from the Mission Branch and always find too much interesting stuff. You can’t beat the view from the Potrero Branch.

Last item you checked out from a library
See a Little Light“, Bob Mould.

Favorite section in a bookstore

Favorite artists
Will Elder, Jack Davis and Goya.

What other projects kept you busy this summer?
In July I finished a poster featuring Jayne Mansfield for The Castro Theatre’s Film Noir festival. Also, a beer label I designed is part of Blue Moon’s artist series beer labels.

What inspired you to draw when you were knee high?
I watched a lot of Perry Mason when I was a kid and became fascinated with the parade of ’50s character actors that went through the series. Their odd faces captivated me. Plus lots of comics. And, bringing up the rear, the startlingly complex and delicate beauty of the natural world.

Why do you think libraries are important / relevant today?
What explanation does “unlimited free books” need? Free access to ideas and information for the public sounds like a good idea to me. “Google it?” Sometimes you just don’t want to be connected to 4 billion people when reading or researching. The ambiance of a library is unbeatable for focused, undisturbed thought.

Why do you love working for and supporting the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library?
Keeping books and ideas in circulation is one of the most important activities one could possibly be involved in.




Thursdays at Readers: Cathleen Williams & Gary Hicks

Join us every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in our Readers Bookstore Fort Mason for our weekly FREE poetry series!

Browse books and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to internationally acclaimed poets and artists such as Jonathan Richman, David Meltzer, Diane di Prima and California Poet Laureate Al Young. The series is curated by Friends’ Resident Poet Jack Hirschman.

Proceeds from our bookstores benefit the San Francisco Public Library.

This week’s featured poets: Cathleen Williams & Gary Hicks

Cathleen Williams is a civil rights lawyer and activist in the movement of homeless people that is rising across the nation, as well as in her home town of Sacramento. She has worked with the League of Revolutionaries For a New America since its inception, and is a founder of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade. In her poetry, she speaks to the astonishing courage and tenacity of our people, struggling with a dehumanizing and dying political system.

Gary Hicks has been writing poetry since 1983. His work is informed by…dictated by…his political and cultural activism of over fifty years. Hicks has been involved in activities advocating peace, justice, solidarity amongst people’s. Currently he is concerned with relationships between China and the US and is active in the US-China Peoples Friendship Associàtion. Hicks is also active in his tenant organization in Berkeley, where he lives.

Read more »