Selected Project The Sidewalk Library
The Sidewalk Library. Concept art courtesy of the project team.

San Francisco Public Library

San Francisco Public Works Landscape Architecture



Central Market

To create a Sidewalk Library which takes the idea of the Public Library as community center and event space to Market Street. We’re literally taking it to the streets!

The San Francisco Public Library and San Francisco Public Works Landscape Architecture are pleased to submit the following proposal for the 2016 Market Street Prototyping Festival:
Our proposal is to create a Sidewalk Library which takes the idea of Public Library as community center and event space to Market Street.

We’re literally taking it to the streets!

Sidewalk Library bookshelves will be made from upcycled newsracks. Bookshelves will be freestanding and painted in a bright color to invite users to the space. Users of the Public Library’s teen space, ‘The Mix”, will be invited to create murals at the back of newsrack/bookshelves. Seating will be fashioned from classic library step stools and flooring for the space will be a carpet of colorful rubber matting so that users of the space will be comfortable sitting on the ground.

Sidewalk Library bookshelves will be stocked with books to swap courtesy of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Users of Market Street can donate their used books and ‘borrow’ new books of their choosing gratis. This feature will be accessible to users for 24 hours throughout the festival.

The Street Library will be hosted by volunteer ‘librarians’ and activated continuously between the hours of 9AM and 5PM each day of the festival.

The Street Library will be activated by a series of programmed events, normally hosted at the city’s main and branch library, but much more accessible and visible to the public on the sidewalk of Market Street during the festival event. Programmed events will be scheduled in advance of the festival and advertised by the Public Library. Daily schedules will be prominently posted at the Sidewalk Library.

A full list of proposed programs is included in engagement strategy section of this proposal which lists many popular events hosted at San Francisco Public’s Main and Branch Libraries that we feel will be as successful, or perhaps more successful on our city’s Main Street such as:

Additional events aimed at activating the site include:

  • Library Card Giveaway: Passersby will be able to apply for and receive San Francisco Public library cards on the spot.

  • Spoke & Word: A pedal powered library including a WiFi hotspot, bubble machine, three bells and one (very loud) horn.

  • Biblio Bistro cooking demonstrations: a mobile kitchen equipped with burners and an oven to teach cooking techniques and share recipes that the community can actually use, whether living in an apartment or an SRO.

This installation will not obstruct Bus and SFMTA zones, Fire hydrants, emergency zones, Public utilities or pedestrian through zones.

Project Gallery

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The Market Street Prototyping Festival is a collaboration between the San Francisco Planning Department and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

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