A library clerk waited for patrons to pick up books from the Merced Library on Tuesday, the first day of SFPL To Go service at that branch. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

Library expands ‘SFPL To Go’ program to four additional branches

Popular service allows patrons to pick up physical books and DVDs

San Francisco Public Library expanded its To Go service to four other branches Tuesday, allowing patrons to pick up books, DVDS, music and other reserved materials in person.

The service, now available at the Eureka Valley, Marina, Merced and Mission Bay libraries as well as the Main Library and Excelsior branch, is akin to picking up a paper bag lunch from the kitchen table.

“This morning, we had close to 50 people come to pick up their books. We give it to them in a paper bag and leave it on a desk for them,” Marina Branch librarian Robert Carlson said.

Library clerk Robert managed the pick-up table at the Marina Branch Library on Tuesday. (Samantha Laurey/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Demand is strong and continuing to grow. According to library spokesperson Kate Patterson, 2,674 patrons have visited the To Go desk at the Main Library and 1,067 patrons the Excelsior Branch since those libraries began offering the service on Aug. 10th and 11th.

Visits to the Main Library increased by over 50 percent last week compared to the week before, while visits to the Excelsior Branch climbed by over 40 percent, and Patterson noted that “momentum for SFPL To Go is growing fast.”

“We hope that people are happy to be reunited with their physical materials,” Patterson said. “While check outs of digital materials have gone up, it doesn’t compare to the physical feeling of a book. A lot of people have been waiting for this moment and this moment has arrived.”

Shirley Ordona dropped off books while waiting to pick up others that she had placed on hold online at the Marina Branch Library. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

Data shows that 746 items have been requested so far from the Main Library, 62 percent of which were books and 33 percent films.

Popular titles include “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, “Know My Name: A Memoir” by Chanel Miller and “Bezonomics: How Amazon is Changing Our Lives and What the World’s Best Companies Are Learning from It” by Brian Dumaine.

At the time of publishing, data for the Excelsior and other branches was not yet available.

Librarians like Carlson and other staff have played vital roles during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as helping out in area food banks. Carlson himself returned to the Marina Branch last week to prepare for To Go service after working as a contact tracer for four months.

But the library is where they belong.

“All of my colleagues are excited to come back to work, and would like to come back to work because we love our jobs,” Carlson said.

Sophia Varry returned books at the Merced Library on Tuesday. The books include some that she checked out and also some that friends asked her to return as they moved away from San Francisco. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F Examiner)

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