S.F. Jewish Community Library expands with Palo Alto annex

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San Francisco's Jewish Community Library extended its walls this week — all the way to the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto.

"We thought, why not try to bring the books right out to the people?" said Susan Jacob, volunteer library coordinator.

The expansion is dubbed the "pushcart project," but the 500 books aren't actually sitting in a pushcart. They're on glass-encased shelves in the ALSJCC's lobby.

In addition to books for adults, the extended library is stocked with children's selections to serve kindergartners through junior high-schoolers.

"We have a significant selection of children's books — not just for young children, but books for teenagers," head librarian Jonathan Schwartz said.

Many of the potential book borrowers are already on-site.

In addition to a preschool and afterschool program, the ALSJCC also houses the Mid-Peninsula Jewish Community Day School.

The youth-oriented books will run the gamut from picture books to biographies of Jews, Schwartz said. Selections will include books about holidays, early 20th-century Russian immigrants, children who survived the Holocaust and youth growing up in contemporary America.

Karen Kennan, assistant executive director at the ALSJCC, said she hopes teachers can use books featuring particular authors or topics that correspond to events during the Jewish year.

"Everyone's seeing it as a great opportunity to enhance the programming we already do," she said.

Kennan added that the ALSJCC's location will give South Bay residents a greater access to Jewish books.

"The opportunity to avail themselves of Jewish resources is something they haven't really had."

The library decided to try the pushcart project because it saw an increased need for Jewish resources in the Palo Alto area.

"We felt like the people on the Peninsula were an underserved population," Jacob said.

She is now looking for volunteers to staff the library outpost. "The hope is that we'll be able to be open more than one day a week," she said.

Eventually the Jewish Community Library, which is part of the S.F.-based Bureau of Jewish Education, would like to expand the project to other locations. Funding is provided by Friends of the Jewish Community Library.

Jacob added that the library's services are free and open to anyone.

"You don't have to be a member of the JCC or a synagogue or any Jewish organization. You just basically have to want the book."