San Francisco Public Library

Language Learning and Linguistics

The General Collections and Humanities Center on the 3rd floor of the Main Library maintains a collection of international language learning books and translation dictionaries covering a broad range of languages, as well as books on linguistics and the English language.

Language Learning

The emphasis of the language learning collection is on the needs of the English-speaking adult who is interested in expanding or acquiring a new language skill, as well as travelers who need phrasebooks or translation dictionaries for the languages of the countries to which they're traveling. The language learning materials are supplemented by the Mango Languages and Rosetta Stone databases.

The following guide to where the various language learning materials are located on the shelf according to their Dewey Decimal classification can be used to help one's research.

See the Language Learning Books PDF to find the locations of more languages than those listed above.

English Language and Linguistics
The English language/linguistics collection contains beginning-to-college-level materials for those learning the English language; general and specialized dictionaries; and books discussing the origins of language and the alphabet. This collection is supplemented by our subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) database. The OED is the authoritative guide to English language meaning, history, usage, and pronunciation.


The General Collections and Humanities Center attempts to keep up-to-date with all the latest editions of English language dictionaries. And of interest to some researchers is our collection of pre-20th-century English language dictionaries.

Books in Languages Other than English and ESL Materials

For books in languages other than English, or materials to learn English as a second language (ESL), visit or call the International Center on the 3rd floor of the Main library.