Learning Differences and Inclusive Programs at SFPL

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San Francisco Public Library supports learning differences and inclusion by providing resources, support, and programs for adults, teens, and children with dyslexia, attention disorders, processing disorders, autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, and other learning differences- and also their families, friends and professionals.

SFPL is the first public library to hire a dedicated Learning Differences Librarian. The Learning Differences Library is part of The Bridge at Main Team, which is the learning and literacy center in the Main Library. The position provides services and support to adults with dyslexia and other learning differences in the Project Read adult literacy program, to youth with learning differences, and works to create system-wide inclusion in service and programming. One of the largest programs offered specifically for youth with learning differences and who are struggling reading is the FOG Readers program. FOG Readers provides one-on-one tutoring and reading remediation for young students struggling with their reading skills. The name not only alludes to San Francisco’s weather, but to Free Orton Gillingham, an evidence based method of instruction initially developed for individuals with dyslexia.

The library further promotes equity and access for all through the work of the Inclusive Programming Committee. The committee meets monthly to assess our current programs and determine how we can better serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We work with several community partners to provide outreach and opportunities to take part in library events for all. As a result of the committee's work, several library locations have started Next Chapter Book Clubs. The committee continues to work to bring more library programs to underserved populations, provide volunteer opportunities, and staff training.


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Collections, Programs, and Services Available

The Learning Differences resources are now part of The Bridge Collection located on the 5th Floor of the Main Library. The Bridge Collection includes materials that can be used by parents, teachers, tutors, or any individual looking to learn about literacy and learning. A high interest, low reading collection directed towards adult patrons can also be found on the 5th floor, shelved next to The Bridge Collection. Hi-Lo books are used to help struggling and/or reluctant readers strengthen decoding and comprehension skills, build confidence, and spark a love of reading.


  • Books, audio and video cassettes on learning differences for adults, teens and children

  • Magazines and newsletters concerned with learning differences and related topics

  • State-of-the-art assistive devices to provide and enhance library accessibility for people with learning differences

  • FOG Readers, one-on-one tutoring program for students in grades 1-4 struggling with reading, writing and comprehension

  • Public awareness workshops and lectures featuring experts who address topics of interest on learning differences

  • Programs designed for patrons with learning differences, intellectual and developmental disabilites


  • San Francisco's Main Library is the first public library in the United States to have services that singularly focus on learning differences

  • The Resource Collection for Learning Differences was established in 1993 with a commitment of support and guidance from the Roberts Foundation and Schwab Learning, a service of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation

  • The Inclusive Programming Committee is charged with engaging in outreach and programming and services for developmentally disabled people of all ages in San Francisco

  • The Bridge at Main, a literacy and learning center that prioritizes in community learning, adult literacy, youth and family literacy to create a learning environment for 21st century skills, was opened in 2014