Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Available at the library’s Environmental Center: Emergence Magazine

Editor's note: this guest post is authored by Gregory Hom, Program Manager of the Environmental Center.  

Hi Magazines and Newspapers Center blog readers: I’m the manager of the library’s 5th floor Environmental Center. I’m thankful to be able to do this guest post on a physically beautiful magazine with great content: Emergence Magazine

Emergence has a lovely website you can enjoy on your computer or phone, but they also put out an annual print magazine. Below are the covers for the 2022 and 2023 issues. 2024's issue should arrive at the library relatively soon. 

Volume 4 (2023) of Emergence Magazine: Shifting Landscapes

Volume 3 (2022) of Emergence Magazine: Living with the Unknown

Spectacular photography and visual art, poetry, creative nonfiction pieces, and interviews are all part of the mix. With one issue per year, you’ll want to spend your time with these almost 300-page collections.

Some of the things I read today while preparing for this post: An interview with author Amitav Ghosh looking at issues of colonialism and violence against land and peoples. An interview with scientist Suzanne Simard on her work in forests and the concept of the Mother Tree. Thoughts on economics and ecology with Robin Wall Kimmerer, which will make you want to read her book The Serviceberry, coming out later this year in November. 

These reference volumes are kept in the Environmental Center, either on display or in the Reference Section. I do hope you’ll come by and check them out. The ideas in these 2022 and 2023 volumes are still fresh, relevant, and nurturing.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

What We're Reading: June 2024

At the end of June, following the June 28 presidential debate, we got totally absorbed in reading op-ed pieces calling for Biden to step down as the Democratic presidential candidate. Regardless of our (or your) opinions on the presidential candidates, it is important to know you can get these news articles through SFPL resources and/or with the help of a Magazines and Newspapers Center librarian.

To attempt this yourself, your first stop should be the Libary's Periodical Finder tool, which will tell you which resource to look in for which dates of a publication. If you get stumped, don't hesitate to reach out to us for help. 

The Hill

On June 30, the news site The Hill published an annotated list of outlets that ran pieces calling for Biden to surrender the Democratic nomination ("These major media outlets have called for Biden to drop out," by Nick Robertson). Here, we offer direct links to the pieces through SFPL resources, so whip out your library card and get ready to login. 

The New York Times

The Hill: The Times, which has battled with Biden’s campaign for months over its coverage of the president, said that Biden should step aside to “serve his country,” in a searing editorial on Friday.

In case you hit the NYT paywall through The Hill's link, allow us to remind you that SFPL offers several ways to access the NYT. Here is a direct link to the "searing editorial" in the text-only version via ProQuest.

The New Yorker

The Hill: David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, evoked Mark Twain to describe Biden’s performance in last week’s debate, remarking on the president’s age.

This piece is an online-only read as of July 6, 2024, which means you should be able to access it openly on the New Yorker website. However, just a note to say that SFPL has several options to access the content of the New Yorker that appears in the print publication, including through Flipster, which completely simulates the experience of reading the print magazine. 

The Economist

The Hill: Britain’s largest current affairs magazine doubled down on its repeated calls for Biden not to run again on Friday. Its own editorial said in stepping down, Biden “would help rescue America from an emergency.”

Like many of the periodicals on this list, SFPL offers several ways to access the content of the Economist. The article referenced by The Hill can be read in full through a database called Gale Academic OneFile. As the Hill makes clear, this isn't the first time the Economist has beat that drum. Check out PressReader, where you can read back issues of the Economist and the new July 6 issue, which is almost exclusively devoted to the topic (see the Leaders section on page 9).

Chicago Tribune

The Hill: The Tribune, the Midwest’s largest newspaper, said last week’s debate should be met with just one word: “Enough.”

Read the text-only version of the article, which in this case is available in ProQuest

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Hill: The Journal-Constitution’s editorial board also did not mince words. “It’s time for Biden to pass the torch,” the piece is titled.

Georgia's major newspaper is available in a text-only version from several SFPL databases. Here is a direct link to the article via ProQuest.

Other calls

The Hill: Other newspapers weren’t as direct. Both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal editorial boards said bowing out should be seriously considered by the president, though neither went as far as to explicitly recommend it.

Pop quiz! Try finding the articles from The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post yourself. Use Periodical Finder to search for the name of the newspaper, and then click through to connect to the database. Try searching for a phrase from the article if a search for the title of the article isn't doing the trick. 

Stumped? Leave a comment and we'll get back to you with the direct link.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Summer Stride in the Magazines and Newspapers Center

Summer Stride Activity Tracker - Click to Enlarge
SFPL's summer reading program is called Summer Stride and the point is to counteract the "summer slide" that children and teens experience when not in school over the summer. But it's not just for kids! There are plenty of options for learning and reading for adults to snag one of the coveted tote bags or (new in 2024) pencil bags. 

The deal is to spend 20 hours reading or learning or hit bingo! between June 1 and August 31. You can track your hours online in Beanstack, on a print tracker, or use the bingo card.

Summer Stride Bingo Card - Click to Enlarge


At the Magazines and Newspapers Center, we have many ways to help you secure that tote bag, including four bespoke programs on offer in August. 


First of all, you'll notice on the bingo card there is a box for "Read a Magazine on Flipster," which is a platform you can find on our eMags page. There are hundreds of magazines from all over the world available, including Consumer Reports, Science, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, National Geographic, WIRED, Time, Newsweek, National Review, Essence, People, Harper's Bazaar, and many, many more. Pop into Flipster and take a look. 

Live Virtual Programs 

Next, register for one of our two virtual library webinars in August, or catch the livestream in the Computer Training Center on the 5th floor of the Main Library. 

Tutorial: San Francisco Chronicle Online

Thursday, 8/1/2024
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Tutorial: San Francisco Examiner Online

Thursday, 8/15/2024
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.


Live In-Person Programs

Then, visit us at the Main Library to participate in one of two hands-on activities. The first will involve interacting with our extensive collection of vintage magazines and the second will give you all the supplies and instructions to make your own zine.
Saturday, 8/24/2024
11:00 - 12:00
Magazines and Newspapers Center, 5th Floor, Main Library 

Lastly, top it all off by joining us for a zine party to reflect on what you learned during Summer Stride. If you still need hours by the end of August, this is a fun way to add up to 3 hours to your tracker. 

Activity: Summer Stride Zines 

Thursday, 8/29/2024
4:00 - 7:00 (drop-in)
Learning Studio, 5th Floor, Main Library 
Learn how to make your own 8-page zine out of a single sheet of paper and/or create an 8.5” x 5.5” page to contribute to the SFPL Summer Stride Anthology Zine.
We hope you can join us for one of our programs. Nonetheless, the Magazines and Newspapers Center is available to help you add hours to your tracker if you need help finding a magazine or newspaper digitally or finding one of the hundreds of newspapers or magazines we have in-print at the Main Library.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The Magazines and Newspapers Center in 1996

When the new Main Library first opened in 1996, it was a state-of-the-art facility wired with internet access at computer terminals throughout the building. People lined up before opening to get in and get a good spot. Users could access the library's catalog (called the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)), the world wide web, subscription databases, SFPL-created databases, and other troves of information through these connected terminals. The new library made news for its embrace of digital information. In September of the same year, five months after the new Main Library's grand opening, MSNBC ran a 9 minute spot featuring SFPL and a business library in NYC in a piece about "high tech libraries" and lots of footage was collected on the 5th floor! Today the computer lab next to the Magazines and Newspapers Center is still popular as ever although some things around it have changed. Watch this video and tell us if you can recognize any familiar faces and spaces! 

Friday, June 14, 2024

Sex Positive Feminist and Lesbian Magazines

It's Pride at the Queerest. Library. Ever. so Mags and News has put together this selection of out of print sex positive radical magazines for the audience of feminists and lesbians. You can browse more on the 5th floor of the Main Library in the new Bound Magazines Browsing Collection (formerly known as Tier 0) around the 306.7663 call number. Ask for help locating any of these at the Magazines and Newspapers Center reference desk on the 5th floor or email for help.


We start off with the early aughts publication from New York City, Velvetpark! It features pop culture queer celebs like Margaret Cho, Joan Osborne, Jill Sobule, and Eve Ensler while also indulging some sexual fantasies. With the tagline "dyke culture in bloom," it is pretty soft core compared to the publications further down this list, but is more hard core than the more mainstream Girlfriends. It features a regular column with former On Our Backs (see further down this list) editor Tristan Taormino amongst other goodies, and really delivers on that glossy high magazine feel. While Velvetpark is no longer printed, it is still an active digital publication that you can find at In the Magazines and Newspapers Center, we have the first issue from 2002 through the last in 2007, minus issues 5 and 7.


This little pamphlet comes out of London and is "for women who love women." We have numbers 1-6 minus 5, but thankfully no. 5 is available in full on the Internet Archive. Dates do not appear anywhere on the zine issues so it's hard to tell exactly when it was published, although we assume it is from the 1980s and most likely no. 6 was published in 1984 (there are some pretty cool computer illustrations that today we might nostalgically call clip art in its pages). It is probably the least explicitly sexual of all the titles, but it makes up for that in English charm and wittiness.

On Our Backs

The more widely known (and dowdy) feminist magazine Off Our Backs takes a backseat to San Francisco published On Our Backs, a magazine dedicated to "adventures in lesbian sex" and that exhorts the mainstream publications to put the "sex" back into the struggle. The Fall 2005 issue has sections called Babes, Features, Cliterature, Full Frontal, Sexperts, Reviews, and In the Back and there is no lack of tantalizing sexual images. Mags and News has a full run of this magazine, from 1984-2006.

Fat Girl 

Fat Girl does not disappoint with erotic images of fat women pleasuring each other, and why would you expect anything less from a magazine with the tagline, "A zine for fat dykes and the women who want them" coming out of San Francisco. This is the OG body positivity publication for queer womxn, which engages in roundtable discussions of sex, sexuality, sexiness, gender, power, and shopping. As they say on the front cover of the first issue: "Hot photos, stories, rants, smut, hints, comics, resources, and much more!!!" In Mags and News we have issues 1-7, 1994-1997.

Venus Infers

Venus Infers is a leather dyke magazine that was published quarterly in San Francisco for a couple years, most likely 1993-1994. It features discussion of important issues in the lesbian community along with a healthy dose of erotica indulging in BD/SM, role play, kink, toys, etc. In the Mags and News department, we have the first issue (summer 1993) through to the fall 1994 issue. 

Frighten the Horses 

With the tagline "Document of the sexual revolution" and founded when its editor returned to San Francisco from living in Japan for two years, this magazine, printed on newsprint for the first couple issues, is queerest in the sense of not limiting its topics to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, gender queer, straight or cis identities. It basically says, anyone with divergent sexual habits and fantasies is already shunned from the American mainstream, why further divide and label? We especially enjoyed the pieces by Kim Addonizio that appeared in the first few issues, way before any of her books were published. In the Magazines and Newspapers Center, we have the first issue from 1990 to the May, 1994 issue. Not quite a full run--the magazine ceased in 1995 according to Ulrichs directory of periodicals--but pretty dang close.

Friday, May 31, 2024

What We're Reading: May 2024

This edition of What We're Reading is the prison writing edition. The four things mentioned below were written by individuals who have spent time behind bars, whether it's as employees or as incarcerated persons. 

The Diary of a Rikers Island Library Worker

The New Yorker, May 12, 2023

Author and illustrator Medar de la Cruz is the recipient of the 2024 Pulitzer Prize in Illustrated Reporting and Commentary for this piece published last year reflecting on his work bringing books to incarcerated people at Rikers Island. The link above goes to the public New Yorker website, which is the only place this piece was published. Side note, you can access the New Yorker several ways through SFPL--it's on Flipster, an e-magazines platform SFPL provides, and we have it in print on the 5th floor of the Main Library, to name a few options.


Surgery in Shackles

Lux, Winter 2023

Originally appearing in the print version of Lux issue 9 (Winter 2023), this article by Carla Simmons and illustrated by Huanhuan Wang is now freely available on the Lux website. Simmons describes the inhumane and inadequate treatment she received through the course of experiencing abdominal pain while incarcerated in Georgia. She is not alone. Her experience is indicative of the universal need to overhaul the prison medical system.


He carved himself with an ID card and I just felt numb. 

Sunday Times, April 28, 2024

As a teenager, author Gen Glaister had a strange career aspiration to work in a prison, and in this excerpt from her forthcoming book, The Prison Officer, she describes the wonderment and repulsion she felt as she got to know the inmates at the prison where she took a job as a young woman. While SFPL does not (yet) have Glaister's book in the collection, you can read the Sunday Times excerpt online through our database subscriptions (hyperlinked in title) or in the print newspaper available at the 5th floor page desk. We keep the print edition of the Sunday Times for three months, so you will have to come by the end of July to see it in print.