How to Get a Library Card in San Francisco

Introduction: How to Get a Library Card in San Francisco

FREE books! FREE movies! FREE music! FREE classes and events! FREE knowledge!

Where? At your local Public Library of course.

Plenty of resources are available if you just walk-in, but in order to take stuff home or use all their online materials you'll need your own Library Card. Just follow these few easy steps.

To do this Instructable you will need:

-Proof of Address (if your I.D. does not show your San Francisco address)

Using your Public Library is an item on the Neighbors Project Checklist.

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Step 1: Find Your Library

Check in with the Main Library (100 Larkin Street at Grove, (415) 557-4400) to find your neighborhood branch or go online to get all 27 branch addresses, phone numbers and hours.

You might even be able to spot yours by simply walking around your neighborhood. Just follow those smart and happy looking people who are gushing about how, "It's like going into a candy shop where all the candy is free."

Also: each neighborhood's library has its own flavor. For example, the Eureka Valley branch has a large section of LGBTQ books and movies, and DVDs galore of the L Word and Queer as Folk. So shop around for a branch that works with your taste.

Step 2: Bring Your I.D. and Proof of Address

To get a library card you need only two things:

1. Identification

If you have a California State Resident I.D. or Driver License that shows your San Francisco address you have just killed two birds with one stone.
If not, any of the following types of I.D. will do: out of state State Resident or Driver License, Passport, School, Alien Registration, Military, Consular, or Employee.

2. Proof of Address

You can use any of the following: a piece of mail addressed to you at your San Francisco addressed that's postmarked within the past 30 days, an imprinted bank check or deposit slip, current rent receipt, utility bill (from the past 30 days), or a Medi-Cal card.

Step 3: Fill Out the Application

Each Library has computers somewhere near the front desk where you can fill out the application.

Step 4: Talk to a Librarian at the Front Desk

Once you're done filling out the application, close the window and go up to those friendly librarians at the front desk and tell them you'd like to get a library card. They will pull up your application on their own computer, ask to see your I.D. and Proof of Address, ask you to make a four digit pin number that you'll use to access your account online and then.... HAND YOU YOUR VERY OWN LIBRARY CARD. You'll get one the size of business card and another smaller one that fits on your key chain.

If you're lucky, you might be able to choose from a variety of designs. As of now (Spring/Summer 2008) you can choose from four different drawings made by San Francisco students. What says 'going to the library' to you? A bold demand made by a 4th grader to READ? A concentric circles of colors created by a preschooler?

Step 5: Get Your Learn On

Ta-daaaah! You now have full access to an indescribable amount of knowledge and good times. And all just a quick jaunt away; work your library time into your walk home from work, or as an after dinner stroll (they're open late).

A few last things to keep in mind:

-Despite lots of government services being strangely low-tech in San Francisco, plenty of libraries have down right space-age facilities-- like self-check-out machines.

-You can request any book, DVD, CD etc you can't find by talking to a librarian or doing it online.

-Late fees are 10 cents per day for books and $1 a day for videos so avoid them by renewing your materials by phone at (415) 557-4511 or online using your account.

-There are lots of non-English books available.

-Your card expires after two years but you can renew it for free.

-You can call (415) 557-4363 for all questions about your account.

-Most libraries have all sorts of special events and facilities, like book clubs, knitting clubs and reading rooms for kids. Check out the calendar at your library to see if there's anything you like.

-Music lovers: you can check out all manner of music scores and recordings at the main library.

-And perhaps the most amazing thing of all: you can call (415) 437-4880 and someone will TELL YOU A STORY. And to top that off, they can do it in English, Spanish (437-4882) or Cantonese (437-4883).

Whoever said, "The Library is the coolest place on earth," was totally right.

And by all means, check out the LIBRARY CART DRILL TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS held every year by the American Library Association (ALA). There's dancing, there's book carts, there's glitter. It just might make you want to be a librarian. Or at least crash the next ALA conference.

Here are the 2008 videos and 2007.

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    13 Discussions


    10 months ago

    why it's so difficult to create self register on the web? always error .. 'address' or some times 'number' is not recognize ... what's problem? i'm from indonesian. thx.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    "FREE books! FREE movies! FREE music! FREE classes and events! FREE knowledge!


    The Internet!

    Having fun, isn't hard, when you've got a library card! I'm in college now, but I still can't forget that stupid Arthur song.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I don't think you actually have to live in San Francisco, either. Just California will do. Almost all California public libraries are reciprocal! And SF libraries subscribe to many AWESOME databases! -librarian a bit further south


    11 years ago on Introduction

    AAAAAAWWWWWWW i want to live in san francisco :(

    I'm jealous! I wish I had a pretty library card. Ours just lists the locations of all the libraries in my county.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Not trying to be mean, but is how you get a lib card in SF different from anywhere else in the States? (What you've described is the same here, as far as how to get a card, which is what you've titled this 'ible...)


    11 years ago on Introduction

    They're not your movies! They belong to everyone. Be a good neighbor and return your DVDs in a timely manner so that everyone can see it. Anyhow, after a week or two they start charging you $1 a day for those DVDs and you can't just keep renewing them online over and over again like you can with books.

    As for which SF public library branches have the best DVD selection... that's a carefully guarded secret.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Great job! One amazing thing about the library here is that there are no late fees. If you don't bring it back you can't get more. My libraryt also gives away free magazines (to keep)