Prelinger Library keeps print alive for 19 years and counting

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Friday, September 30, 2022
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This urban library specializes in a unique collection of literature not commonly found in other public libraries.

SAN FRANCISCO -- 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 shelves 14 feet high, 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 working research collections," stated Megan Prelinger, the co- founder of Prelinger Library. "Topics of natural history, the built environment, American history, history of technology, and it seemed quite important to put this collection in front of other people."

The space holds over 50,000 books, periodicals, and pieces of print ephemera. Visitors to the Prelinger Library are encouraged to sip complimentary tea and discuss their readings with other guests. It's all to keep interpersonal communication and the art of print alive.

"There's this idea out in the world that print is dead, that print is for old people, print is for people who are nostalgic," said Rick Prelinger, co- founder of Prelinger Library. "And what we've found that kind of surprised us is that most of our users are young, high school, twenties, thirties."

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

"For people to be able to be invited to touch this range of materials is very moving to them," said Megan Prelinger. "Many people have a strong emotional response to a room full of books."

She adds, "We'd like to see the collection continue to get richer, deeper, and more socially meaningful, and we'd like it to continue."

For more information about Prelinger Library, visit here.