letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Library – Bring Back Mailed Notices


Please share this letter with your readers:

Dear Dr. Mary Wardell Ghirarduzzi, November 18, 2019

The San Francisco Public Library recently made major changes in its core borrowing procedures that adversely affects its most vulnerable patron population: seniors, low-income and disabled library users.

In mid-September, without any prior public notice, the S. F. Library eliminated mailed notices, which let borrowers know when library materials they have requested are available for pickup at branches. These notices greatly facilitate and encourage borrowing of library materials. Without them, it’s all but impossible for thousands of library users who do not have internet access to use the library’s vast collection.

The most recent U.S. Census reports that 138,000 San Franciscans do not have internet access from their homes. In making these changes, library staff did not take into account this vulnerable population of library users. They presumed that all patrons have home internet access, which would allow patrons to receive notices via the internet.

In eliminating mailed notices, library staff did not take into account these thousands of San Franciscans who have no effective way of placing library materials on hold for pickup in a manageable manner. This effectively hampers and greatly discourages 138,000 patrons from using the library.  Quite simply, if a patron cannot know if a book is available they will likely not use the library.

This action by the library violates its public obligation to serve ALL users equally and with the same level of service. It may also violate several civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s worth noting this unprecedented change in library policy was never officially voted on or approved by the San Francisco Library Commission.


The California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA), a statewide senior advocacy organization, and its’ San Francisco Chapter, urges the Library Commission and the S. F. Board of Supervisors to reverse this practice and allow patrons to receive notification by U.S. mail or by email, whichever the patron chooses, as was previous practice.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact our office.


Nan Brasmer, CARA President 

(on behalf of  Nick Pasquariello, SF CARA Member and the SF CARA Action Team)


SF Library Commissioners, SF Board of Supervisors, Mayor London Breed


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