San Francisco Public Library Rates Highest Ever in City Survey

For Immediate Release: May 13, 2019

Media contact: Jaime Wong

(415) 557-4295;

San Francisco Public Library Rates Highest Ever in City Survey

SFPL receives A- in Controller’s city performance survey

San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Public Library is excited to toot our own horn and announce that it has received an A- rating in the Office of the Controller’s biennial survey of San Francisco residents. Not only have respondents increased the Library’s rating from a B+ to an A-, the A- rating is the highest grade of any government service since the City Survey began in 1996.

Respondents rated the Library on several attributes: Online services; collection of books, DVDs, CDs, etc.; assistance from library staff; internet access; condition of the library; and quality of programs, classes and events. All Library ratings increased, receiving the highest ratings in City Survey history, with collections and online services seeing the largest growth and internet access the smallest. New questions about library programming and condition of facilities were added to the survey in 2019, with 89% and 84% of respondents rating an “A” or“B”, respectively. Ninety-three percent of respondents rate assistance from library staff an “A” or “B”, the highest of the survey.

“I am so proud of our San Francisco Public Library,” said City Librarian Michael Lambert. “Our staff focuses on delivering the highest possible level of service to library patrons.  We exist to enhance the quality of life for our residents and foster shared experiences for a connected community. Having 93% of the community rate library staff assistance so highly truly validates this effort. Library staff excels at creating a safe, caring and comfortable destination in our neighborhoods where all are welcome.”

Respondents across income levels rate the library similarly, though use varies slightly. Approximately 90% of respondents rate the library an “A” or “B” across the income spectrum, but usage patterns differ. Low-income respondents are slightly more likely to be frequent users (one or more times a month) of any library service, and are more likely to have used the Main Library in the past year. They are less likely, however, to have used online services than middle- or high-income respondents.

“From national Library of the Year to the top City Department, our library is on a roll,” said Library Commission President Dr. Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi. “It’s gratifying when our staff’s dedication and hard work is recognized by the community we serve.”

Every two years, the City Survey is conducted using a random sample of San Francisco residents. The survey covers seven services: Government, libraries, parks, safety, transportation, infrastructure and 311 services. The report aims to explore differences across race/ethnicity, gender, age, income, geography and education levels, as well as the intersections of these characteristics. Visit to access additional City Survey content including interactive graphs and the full data set of survey responses.

The San Francisco Public Library is the 2018 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year. More than 6 million people use SFPL’s library facilities, including the Main Library in Civic Center, 27 neighborhood branches and four mobile outreach vehicles. The library system enjoys extraordinary political and fiscal support thanks to a voter led initiative that mandates an annual funding set aside from the City’s property tax revenues, resulting in an annual budget of $138 million. Every SFPL library is open seven days a week and all 27 neighborhood branches are open a minimum of 50 hours each week, with some open 55 and the Main Library open 62 hours. For more information, see

San Francisco Public Library by the Numbers

1 – National Library of the Year 2018

4 – Bookmobiles

7 – Open days of the week 

10 – Library card designs

28 – San Francisco library locations

89 – Story times offered every week

897 – Staff to serve the public

1,000+ – Summer Stride programs

1,500 – Library programs every month

1879 – First San Francisco Public Library opens

12,075 – Passes checked out to local museums and attractions

34,704 – Student Scholar Cards

445,070 – Library card holders

3.8 million – Items in the library’s collection

4.5 million – Access free Wi-Fi

6.1 million – Annual visitors

11 million – Annual circulation of materials

May 13, 2019