The Library makes efforts throughout the fiscal year to gather feedback on its services and resources and how patrons use them. Quantifiable resources (e.g. size of the Library’s collection; registration of new patrons; number of visitors) and surveys of patrons’ experiences (e.g. reference; satisfaction with resources and staff) help document trends in patron use. Findings from these counts and surveys are incorporated into decision-making about service provision and resource allocation; they are reported as well to the Controller of the City and County of San Francisco, the State Library of California and the Public Library Association.

Statistics for the most recently completed fiscal year are provided on this site as soon as they are available for posting. The Library’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.


Data collected from the Chief of Branches, Chief of Main, Children & Youth Services, Exhibitions & Programs and Information Technology departments provide a snapshot of library activity over the course of a fiscal year:


the number of Library-owned items that were borrowed by the public

Collection Size

the number of books, magazines, newspapers, government documents, CDs, DVDs, phonograph records, etc. owned by SFPL

Database Subscriptions

the number of databases the Library subscribes to in the fiscal year

Database Searches

the number of times patrons used the subscription databases


the number of author readings, lectures, classes, films & videos, branch openings, performances, reading groups, storytimes and other presentations held; the number of community/street fairs Library staff attended

Event Attendees

the number of people who attended Library-sponsored events or events in which the Library took part

Newly-Registered Patrons

the number of children, teens, adults and seniors who signed up for library cards in the fiscal year

Total Patrons

the number of people who hold SFPL borrower cards


the number of people who came into SFPL buildings


The Chief of Main (COM) and Chief of Branches (COB) offices administer surveys throughout the fiscal year:

The Reference Survey is conducted twice during each fiscal year, typically once in the fall and again in the spring, each time for two weeks. Over the course of those weeks, staff track the number of times patrons ask reference questions (e.g. “How do I find a book in your online catalog?,” “Do you own this magazine?,” “What does MISSING in your catalog mean?,” “I’m researching the birds of California. Can you help me find information?”), directional questions (“Where is the bathroom?,” “Can you help me reserve a computer?,” “How do I use the copier?,” “What time do you close?”) and provide instructional/ informational assistance (e.g. placing holds on books; registering children for the Summer Reading program; showing patrons how to use the copiers). From numbers gathered during these four weeks the Library extrapolates the number of times these types of questions are asked and how much assistance is given over the course of an entire year.

The Library Satisfaction Survey is offered throughout the year online and at least once each fiscal year on paper. The surveys provide opportunities for patrons – both those who use the Library in person and those who use it remotely – to rate their experiences with and give feedback on the Library’s resources and services.