Library branch opening at JCCSF

A new branch of the Jewish Community Library is opening in San Francisco.

Hailed as a unique collaboration, the branch will be housed at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

The main library collection is a part of the Bureau of Jewish Education and is kept at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay.

“To have library materials in a place with so much foot traffic is really fantastic,” said Jonathan Schwartz, director of the library. “More and more people will have a chance to know what we have at the library. Even though we can’t provide the total library, people can get access to it and a taste of it, and can go home with books.”

According to Schwartz, discussions about a collaboration were taking place when the old JCC was still in existence. But as the plan for a new JCC became a priority, the idea was temporarily shelved. Until now.

The library was scheduled to open this week.

The branch will actually exist in two places: on shelf space in the Swig Family Beit Midrash and on a pushcart in the Pottruck Family Atrium.

The collection will include current fiction and nonfiction books as well as periodicals, videos, DVDs and other multimedia items, plus children’s books (especially geared to those parents dropping their children off at day care).

While the collection will number about 2,500 volumes, Schwartz said that the entire catalog of the library will be available, and if someone at the JCC wants something at the library, it can be delivered in a matter of days. The item can be returned to either location.

The branch is also able to purchase duplicate copies of many items in the library’s collection, with grants from Fran and David Meckler and Bruce Burnam.

Additionally, many of the library books may be useful to JCC staff. “For instance, if an early childhood educator wants to do a Purim program, he can go there for help,” said Schwartz. “But everything will be circulating through our system.”

A few events are planned to celebrate the opening. They include: a reading co-sponsored with A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture with Pearl Abraham, author of the new novel, “The Seventh Beggar,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24; a Beit Midrash for Healing Professionals co-sponsored with the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center at 7 p.m. March 10; and a family day with storytelling, arts projects and children’s book readings at 2 p.m. March 13.

“We have so many people coming through our doors every day,” said Rabbi Scott Slarskey, a Jewish educator who has been overseeing the library from the JCCSF’s end. “And they have the expertise to help us develop a well-resourced library and help us do the cataloging, staff recruitment and training.”

For the library’s hours, visit

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."