April 10 through 16 marks National Library Week. Regular visitors to the blog know that I’m a bonafide library addict. How can I pass one by, when each one has something different to offer? There are the displays at San Jose’s King Library, the amazing graphic novels and manga at Watsonville Public Library, the programs at City of Palo Alto Library…um, where was I? If you find yourself in northern California, here are three more to see.
Harrison Memorial Library, Ocean Avenue, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA
Thanks to Carmel’s lack of street numbers and the building’s small size, it’s easy to miss this library on your first visit. Please don’t make that mistake! In a famously picturesque town, Harrison Memorial Library is (ahem) a storybook beauty in its own right. I love the Carmel stone pathway, and the little garden in front (which is full of fragrant yellow freesias at the moment). The cozy reading area feels like an oasis, especially when the fireplace is running. There’s a second branch nearby on Mission Street and Sixth Avenue, which is devoted to children’s books and local history.
San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA
While the SFPL system boasts a staggering 28 branches (and a bookmobile), I regret to say I’ve only visited the Main Library on Larkin Street in person. Once you’ve seen the gorgeous facility’s spiral staircase and spacious atrium, though, you may not want to go anywhere else. The Main Library building celebrates its 20th birthday this year, with many exhibitions and events to mark the occasion (including a party on April 18). While I always wish I could visit more often, the extensive SFPL online holdings always keep my e-reader well-stocked. The staff is exceptionally helpful, too!
While Santa Cruz County is relatively small, the library’s ten branches have you covered from Aptos to Scotts Valley and points in between. (There’s also a bookmobile!) It’s easy to request an item from one branch and have it held for you at another, but each location has distinctive charms. (The petite Garfield Park branch, which celebrated its 100th birthday last July, is enchanting.) Let’s not forget the Santa Cruz Public Libraries Precision Book Truck Drill Team, which is always a highlight of local parades. I can’t find the clip with the cool syncopated shushing the librarians did a few years ago, but this will give you an idea:
I haven’t mentioned the other libraries I’ve visited once or twice, and hope to know better in the future. Of course, I really want to hear about the great libraries in other places! Which ones are closest to your hearts?