More San Francisco Public Library branches reopened Monday for limited in-person services, including the Ortega, Richmond/Sen. Milton Marks Jr. and Visitacion Valley branches. The Excelsior branch will open its doors on Tuesday.
The four branches will operate in line with the Browse and Bounce program, which gives library patrons one hour to browse, pick up and check out materials as well as ask questions of library staff. Patrons can also schedule one-hour sessions for library computer use.
The Main Library branch was the first to launch the Browse and Bounce program, which was then adopted by the Chinatown/Him Mark Lai and Mission Bay branches.
Since March of last year, hundreds of library staff members have played key roles in The City’s response to Covid-19 with work at food pantries, testing sites, student community hubs and shelter-in-place hotels. Some library staff performing duties as as contact tracers, case investigators and outreach workers.
City officials said while some staff are returning back to pre-pandemic positions, staffing levels are still too low to reopen all library branches.
Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the public library “stepped up in more ways than one” in response to the pandemic, but that it is now time to start getting back to “regular business” as The City works to recover, adding:
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but the fact that we are bringing more neighborhood libraries online for service is a great sign of progress as we continue down the path of recovery.”
In addition to the four branches reopening, library officials said they are expanding its to-go service where patrons pick up holds at branch entrances. The SFPL To-Go service will be added this week at the Bernal Heights, Golden Gate Valley, Ingleside, North Beach, Sunset and Western Addition branches. The service is now available at 18 of the library’s branches, officials said.
Next month, officials aim to reopen the Bayview, Bernal Heights, Eureka Valley, Glen Park, Oceanview and Western Addition branches under the Browse and Bounce program and launch SFPL To-Go service at the Presidio, Parkside and Noe Valley branches.
Officials said the goal is to have all library branches reopened for in-person services before the school year begins in the fall.
City Librarian Michael Lambert said in a statement:
“We are doing the best with the personnel we have to fully reopen all of our neighborhood libraries as expeditiously as possible. In the meantime, we can’t wait to welcome our beloved patrons back through our doors for Browse and Bounce and provide access to collections at our SFPL To-Go locations.”
More information can be found on the public library’s website.