Prelinger Library keeps print alive for 19 years and still going


SAN FRANCISCO– The Prelinger Library has a page-turning history as San Francisco’s urban oasis for research, reading, and inspiration. The space is 72 feet deep with 14-foot-tall shelves, each filled with a unique collection of literature not commonly found in other public libraries.

“This collection started as mine and my partner’s own research collections,” said Megan Prelinger, co-founder of the Prelinger Library. “Topics of natural history, built environment, American history, history of technology, and it felt pretty important to put this collection in front of other people.”

The space contains more than 50,000 printed books, periodicals and ephemera. Visitors to the Prelinger Library are encouraged to sip complimentary tea and discuss their readings with other guests. It’s about keeping interpersonal communication and the art of printing alive.

“There’s this idea in the world that print is dead, print is for old people, print is for the nostalgic,” said Rick Prelinger, co-founder of the Prelinger Library. “And what we found that surprised us a bit was that most of our users are young, high schoolers, in their 20s, 30s.”

The Prelingers believe that the feeling of turning pages and holding historical literature is part of what makes their library so appealing.

“That people can be invited to touch this range of materials is very emotional for them,” said Megan Prelinger. “A lot of people have a strong emotional reaction to a room full of books.”

She adds, “We would like the collection to continue to get richer, deeper and more socially meaningful, and we would like that to continue.”

For more information on the Prelinger Library, visit here.


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