I’m simply in love with the San Francisco Main Library. Yes, THAT library, with the rotating cast of questionable characters on one side and tent encampments on another. But how about the gleaming dome of City Hall lending a little majesty to the third side, just across the street from the proper front door?
It’s more of a crush, this thing I have with the Main. Presidio Branch was my true love for decades. It took some wrenching away when we finally broke up, after I downsized to the Western Addition’s neighborhood. But one should love one’s neighbor, and Western Addition and I have built a respectable relationship. It’s far more multicultural, as this new love offers affection in Chinese characters that Presidio barely knew. Plus, proud little Western Addition stakes its sixties-funk architectural claim to my affection in defiance of the multitude of branches in the classic Carnegie style. (Is there a Carnegie style? Well, Carnegie money built a bunch of those lovely branches. They’re just a few of the 1,689 libraries Andrew Carnegie built with his accumulated millions. Hardly an admirable man, but you’ve got to appreciate all those libraries.)
The Main, though, behind its politely classic exterior, has nothing but shiny, multi-floored open arms waiting for love. I mean. Not only the real people just sitting there ready to answer your questions or check out your books, those smiling faces also featured in my other librarian loves. Free wi-fi, with nobody spilling coffee on you! But at the Main are multi-story stairs descending (or ascending if you really want exercise) into floor after floor of collections and attractions. When this brief story appeared on another site (I get sidetracked onto Medium.com) one reader observed, about elevators at the Main, “You can’t get there from here.” I think the architect just intended for everyone to roam. Talking Books & Braille Center on the 2nd floor. Deaf Services Center on the 1st. Music on the 4th floor, History on the 6th. LGBTQIA on floor 3, Jobs & Careers on 4. What’s not to love about The Main Library of San Francisco?
Altogether, the Main is magic-making. Professor Harold Hill, though he might not find his Marian the Librarian, could stage a Music Man for the ages in the heart of downtown San Francisco. I’d be first in line for auditions.
A most heartfelt love letter infused with fond passion. It’s been a long while since our writing workshop days at USF . . . I’ll add a complementing piece to your post, as we’ve got an eclectic collection of periodicals (including literary journals) and other serendipitous gems on the 5th floor. =)
Hi Jerry!! I DEFINITELY should’ve included the 5th floor, where I’ve enjoyed so many great events. Are you regularly there? Maybe I could buy coffee next time I’m in the ‘hood. Technology defeats me, but email is good: email@example.com. Thanks for dropping by!
I can see why you’re in love with Main. If I lived in San Francisco, I’d hang out there too.
Come on over, any time!
I love it too, though I hardly ever get up
There. But don’t we always love libraries—keeping us alive all our young lives? And keeping us company in our …more mature…moments.
Indeed. And then we can come home and curl up with a good book. Or two or three. Xoxoxo