The San Francisco Public Library's youth bookmobile. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

Mission bookworms, rejoice: Starting Saturday, Oct. 16, library browsing will be available in the neighborhood for the first time since the branch first closed 19 months ago. 

Pick-up service will also become available at the Mission branch’s Bartlett Street door. Residents can place holds on books or other materials in advance, and pick them up Tuesdays through Saturdays at the branch entrance at 300 Bartlett St., the way many branches of the library system operated during the pandemic. 

A few yards away, a bookmobile will offer browsing of a limited but rotating selection of about 4,800 library items, said the library’s Chief of Branches, Cathy Delneo. 

The current bookmobile, which has been stationed at the John O’Connell High School parking lot since October, 2020, offering extremely limited pick-up service twice a week, will spend its last day at 20th and Harrison streets on Thursday, Oct. 14. 

This Saturday, a slightly larger bookmobile will set up shop on Bartlett Street outside the branch library. The items in the bookmobile, Delneo said, will be curated by Mission Branch staff, and will include fiction and nonfiction for adults and youths, graphic novels, young readers, picture books and DVDs in both English and Spanish. 

Browsing at the bookmobile will be open four days a week: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 5:30 p.m. 

The Mission now joins several other branches around the city that offer services five days a week. It’s still limited compared to pre-pandemic accessibility, but a welcome improvement. 

Molly McCall, who works at the bookmobile’s current outpost at John O’Connell, said she’s looking forward to having Mission Branch staff around to help out and being open on Saturdays. 

“People have had so much trouble [coming here] after work,” McCall said. Plus, she added, “Saturday is a great family day.” 

Those who need assistance, don’t have internet access, or simply don’t want to deal with placing a library hold online can call the library to place a hold over the phone, in various languages. 

After spending some time working behind the scenes processing returns and holds from the bookmobile, another librarian said that, come Saturday, he’ll be working alongside the librarian as visitors peruse the stacks. 

People have been anxious for library services to return, he said. “It’s a really popular branch and a unique collection.” 

Meanwhile, library officials still expect to find a temporary rental space for the Mission branch while the Bartlett Street building undergoes a $24.7 million renovation, which is slated to begin in the spring of 2022. 

“Our plan is to move to the temporary space prior to the start of construction,” Delneo said. The library is continuing to work with the city’s Real Estate Division “to identify an appropriate space in the Mission.” 

Starting Oct. 16, English and Spanish-speaking library patrons can call the Mission Branch directly for assistance at (415) 355-2800.

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Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim over eight years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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  1. Wow! This is great! Wonderful to have Bookmobiles back again. They are such a strong part of the community. Also, so good to see the SF Libraries open again. Always make trips to the Excelsior, Glen Park, Bernal Heights, & Portola libraries. Many have after school programs, adult programs, & movie nights. Plus always a nice surprise to find a Little Free Library along the way [take a book, leave a book].

  2. Great news, but I’m still confused about why the library is still closed when renovations are not scheduled to begin until spring 2022. Moreover, it seems the renovations could have begun during COVID closures. Very poor planning on the part of the library (and the city?)

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