News Releases
The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

Mayor London Breed Announces Public Library Reopening Timeline

San Francisco’s Main Library will reopen for “Browse and Bounce” service on Monday, May 3, with more branch libraries to reopen in the following weeks

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) will begin to reopen for limited indoor service on Monday, May 3, 2021, with the reopening of the first floor of the Main Library. The Chinatown/Him Mark Lai Branch Library and Mission Bay Branch Library will reopen the week of May 17. Additional floors at the Main Library and neighborhood branches will reopen as staffing permits and San Francisco continues to make progress on its recovery. Since March 2020, SFPL employees have been serving San Francisco’s COVID-19 response in a variety of essential roles.

SFPL has developed a “Browse and Bounce” program, where patrons will be able to browse library books, music, movies and more, access free public computers for 50-minute sessions, printers, and photocopiers, have questions answered by library staff, return borrowed materials, pick up holds, use the self-check-out machines, and get assistance with library cards and their library accounts. Browse and Bounce will operate in addition to SFPL To-Go, the library’s front-door holds pick up service, which is operating at 15 libraries and four bookmobile locations.

“I want to thank all of the Library staff, along with all the other City workers, who have been serving San Francisco’s COVID response for more than a year now,” said Mayor Breed. “I know that people have really been missing the library, and though we’ve adapted to provide more to-go options and online resources, there’s nothing quite like getting to browse the shelves and pick out your next book.”

Since March 2020, hundreds of Library staff have played a critical role in the City’s COVID-19 response, serving as Disaster Services Workers in various positions. Library staff have supported the City’s emergency response working at food pantries, COVID-19 testing sites, Community Hubs for students, Shelter-in-Place hotels. Library staff continue to serve as contact tracers and case investigators working to slow the spread of the virus in the community and part of the COVID Command Center’s efforts to conduct outreach work, translations, copywriting, and communications. As San Francisco continues reopening and transitioning to recovery from COVID-19, additional Library staff are beginning to return to their pre-pandemic roles, enabling the City to gradually resume in-person library services.

“We’ve missed each and every one of our library patrons, just as much as they’ve missed us and we are so proud to start welcoming them back inside,” said City Librarian Michael Lambert. “Over the past few months, we have been hard at work laying the foundation for an in-person service that follows the latest public health guidance and safety protocols to protect our staff and patrons.”

Reopening Timeline

The schedule for reopening libraries is as follows:

Monday, May 3 - San Francisco Main Library – First Floor
100 Larkin Street (enter via Grove Street)
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Monday, May 17 – Chinatown/Him Mark Lai Branch Library
1135 Powell Street
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 18 – Mission Bay Branch Library
960 Fourth Street
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

At the Main Library, visitors will also be able to visit the San Francisco History Center on the 6th floor by appointment and request materials to be retrieved from collections on upper floors, such as cookbooks, gardening, and general nonfiction. Additional floors at the Main Library and neighborhood branches will reopen as staffing permits.

“COVID-19 required that we limit our interactions and exposure. Now as we begin to turn the corner, it’s important to bring back the public services that help connect community and end isolation. Our libraries are safe spaces, a place for respite and learning, especially for our seniors and kids,” said City Administrator Carmen Chu. “As a young girl I loved going to the library and in San Francisco we have one of the best library systems in the country. Today, I am so excited to see our branches begin to open again especially in some of our densest communities.”

“SFPL has been a tremendous partner in the City’s COVID-19 response. From contact tracing to community outreach to monitoring test sites and hotels, library staff have made important contributions throughout the pandemic and we are grateful for their service,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the Department of Public Health.

Safety Measures

Capacity and services will be limited at all in-person San Francisco Public Libraries. Patrons will be required to abide by all safety requirements and library rules, including social distancing and wearing masks. For the safety of the public and library staff no chairs will be available for sitting to read or study, no study and meeting rooms will be open, and in-person events will not be allowed at this time.

To ensure the safety of library users and staff, SFPL has developed a number of safety protocols and enhancements including:

  • Library users over the age of 2 are required to wear a mask or face covering
  • Social distancing reminders will be placed around the library
  • Building capacity will be limited
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance and service points.
  • Available public computers will be spaced out to encourage social distancing
  • Sanitizing wipes will be available to wipe down computer keyboards
  • Sneeze guards will be placed at all public service desks
  • Self check-out stations will be available for quick and easy borrowing

More information about the library reopening is available online at