Inadequate Space and Facilities

The Case for a New Downtown Library

No Room for Books and Other Media
  • The Library's 128,000 volumes are housed in space designed to hold 45,000. There is no room to grow. Even with rotating the collection, the space is impossibly small for the Library's needs.
  • Staff desks are squeezed into every available space. Boxes and book carts block windows, corridors, and shelves, creating dark and crowded spaces.
  • The Marin Literacy Program is headquartered in the Library, yet for lack of space, tutors and students meet in hallways or whatever space can be found that day.


  • The Library Facilities are Sorely Lacking
  • The library hosts 800-900 visitors per day, and yet has just one single-stall bathroom for adult patrons.
  • With only room for 10 computer stations, there aren't enough computers for adults and children, and the building cannot be wired to today's technology standards.
  • No more children can be accommodated at popular programs such as Storytime, and as a result, the Library cannot promote these programs as it otherwise might.


  • The Outdated Building is Inefficient
  • The Library cannot house modern cost-savings methods such as automatic sorting and routing equipment.
  • Given the condition of the building, it cannot meet Title 24 energy efficiency standards, and thus energy and money is wasted each year.
  • Sewage backups and other recurring maintenance issues cannot be permanently addressed, leaving portions of the Library closed when maintenance issues surface
  • Conduit, air ducts, and water pipes are exposed throughout the building, detracting from the look and feel of the library. The patchwork of upgrades and repairs on the century-old building has left a disjointed layout rife with unsightly rehabilitations.
  • What's Being Done

    Growing Participation and Making Political Inroads
  • SRPLF has strengthened and expanded its Board of Directors, adding current and past City Council Members and community leaders, all dedicated to the Library's future.
  • The San Rafael City Council in January 2015 established the "New Library Adhoc Submittee," which, headed by Councilmembers Maribeth Bushey and Andrew McCollough, will work with the Library Foundation to explore the capital needs of the public library and investigate the possibilities for building a new library in San Rafael.


  • Moving Forward with Preliminary Visioning and Planning
  • The Library Foundation has created a strategic plan, together with the library trustees, supporters, and Friends of the San Rafael Library
  • Thanks to a California State Library grant, we have been able to hold a preliminary visioning process On March 13-14, 2015, with members of the community, neighboring library professionals, and members of the Library Foundation. Inviting community input and professional advice at this early stage is an essential step to understanding what our residents want in a library and how our efforts can best serve the City's needs.


  • Continuing Foundation Outreach and Education Initiatives
  • The residents of San Rafael must own their new library, and thus a core part of our mission is to emphasize and solicit community involvement along every step of the way. Community participation in events like the two-day visioning process and the May 2015 bus tour of neighboring libraries has been popular and the insights we've gained from the resident input has been invaluable.
  • We will continue to involve and educate the local community whenever possible because widespread public support is essential to building a better library for San Rafael.