Reset Rating: B- (10/15)

By: Katie Short


Looking for the best place to hold your neighborhood book club? Follow the Bernal Book Club’s lead and locate the regular meetings in a local library.

The San Francisco Public Libraries have made it possible [to a certain degree] to reserve the public meeting rooms online [as long as you meet the list of stipulated requirements] so that [qualified] residents can more readily take advantage of these great [but guarded]communal spaces. Gov 2.0?

Accessibility: 1 out of 3

So it’s pretty simple to get to the reservation form, but once you’re there, be wary of moving forward blindly without reading the extensive Rules for Community Use.

A sampling:

Of course, there is a Priority of Use for scheduling purposes:
First: Library-sponsored events
Second: Public meetings sponsored by other city departments and commissions, and neighborhood or community-based meetings from the library’s locality
Third: Children, youth groups, and organizations … involved in literacy or educational programs
Fourth: Other non-profit organizations

And: the library will not accept an application from a group of fewer than six people; San Francisco residency of the group contact must be verified; the group or organization meeting must operate regularly in San Francisco; the application must be filed at least one week prior to the event; no reservations will be received for meetings more than six months out; the “appropriate Library administrator” must approve the reservations, etc.

Oh wait, and the pages feature a Spanish and Chinese translation option, but the translated pages feature links to pages that are not available in a language other than English and to PDFs which are also only available in English. Not helpful.

Ease of Use: 2.5 out of 3

Not a problem (aside from the involved process from the site) — check the calendar to ensure the desired date is free, submit your form, and await confirmation — given that you met the list of requirements and fell reasonably close to the top of the priority list.

Design: 2 of 3

The service pages are easily navigated and the presentation is generally clean. I would only object to pages, like the Library Commission Meeting Room Policy page, which feature solid screens of Arial 14 text without paragraph or line breaks. These are a challenge to sift through.

The Guide: 2 out of 3

“Questions? Call Public Affairs 415-557-4277, Fax 415-557-4281 or email[email protected]”…without an online FAQ? Not very Gov 2.0…

User Feedback: 2.5 out of 3

If you click “Contact” at the very base of the meeting room pages, there is a “comments and suggestions” hyperlink to the feedback form. Of course, it is not publicly aggregated…

Finding it…

Start at the website, and select “Residents” from the universal navigation bar at the top of the page. Once on the “Residents” page, click “Recreation and Learning” from beneath the “Spotlight” menu (toward the middle of the page). From the “Recreation and Learning” page, choose “San Francisco Public Libraries” under the “Libraries” header in the “Key Services” section.

On the website, mouse over the “Services” option from the navigation bar at the top of the page. A drop-down menu populates and from there, select “Meeting Rooms.” From the “Meeting Rooms” page, choose whether you are interested in reserving a room in the Main Library or in one of the local branches.

For a reservation in the Main library: choose the room that is the best fit in terms of size and facilities. Then, once on the page for the room, you can check the room availability by clicking the “room availability” hyperlink, which takes you to another page with a full-page calendar. If you go back from the calendar page, you can then select, from the third point, “online room request,” and proceed to complete the information in the pop-out window.