While libraries are stereotypically silent places with outdated computers and spaces strictly for individual studying, San Francisco Public Libraries offer a variety of free programs around the City for teenagers, ranging from recording studios to online movies for streaming.
Checking out books from libraries and retrieving information online are popular resources, but teenagers also have access to The Mix at the SFPL Main branch, a library space for 13 to 18 year olds. The Mix allows teens to explore their interests through events and workspaces in a welcoming, creative environment, according to Xima Avalos, SFPL librarian at the Golden Gate Valley branch.
“Most library card holders aren’t aware of how many resources they have access to,” Avalos said. “The Mix has activities for every teen to enjoy, or they can just hangout.”
Resources include a recording and film studio, books targeted for teens, video games and a laptop checkout system. The space differs from a typical library space with its cafe-style seating, speakers and projection screen.
“The idea of libraries is usually unappealing for teens because you have to be quiet and study,” Avalos said. “At The Mix, you don’t need to be quiet. You can hangout with your friends and eat free snacks and chat because it’s designed for noise and collaboration.”
With The Mix and the 28 other branches, in-library resources are easily accessible, but these resources expand further online, with SFPL’s eLibrary, home to audio books, online articles, streaming music and movies for library card holders. Kanopy Movies, a movie streaming site similar to Netflix, allows SFPL card holders to stream 10 free movies a month.
“San Francisco Public Library was named library of the year in 2018,” SFPL youth volunteer Kai Johnson said. “I think this wasn’t only for our extensive book and database selection, but mainly our versatility in programs and online resources.
Every resource available through SFPL, both online and through the physical libraries, are completely free and available to everyone who possesses a library card.
“Getting a library card is extremely easy,” Johnson said. “Teenagers can come in and fill out a short application, and as long as they have a school ID or driver’s license with their name and photo, they can get a free library card from any branch.”
Upcoming events at The Mix include coding, book swaps, music recording opportunities and Christmas movie screenings. Events and online resources are at themixatsfpl.org.