Charting a New Chapter: Transformative Plans for San Rafael’s Downtown Library & Carnegie Building

Over the past few years, SRPLF extensively evaluated several possibilities for the new Downtown San Rafael Library, examining locations like Boyd Park and Albert Park. We put a special emphasis on exploring the renovation of the existing location, given the community’s attachment and regard for the Carnegie library there. Through this thorough exploration, it became evident that site of the Carnegie next to City Hall does not offer sufficient space to meet the diverse and growing needs of our community. 


Removing almost 10,000 square feet of additions and attaching a modern library to the original, relatively small Carnegie reading room would require going vertical with a 3-story addition.  It would require hugely expensive site improvements, such as elevated parking decks, and costly challenges of integrating a modern facility 20,000+ square foot facility with the Carnegie reading room that is less than one-tenth that size.  The Carnegie library is a historic structure and a prime candidate for preservation, however, the site cannot adequately serve as the site of San Rafael’s downtown branch.


Relocating the Downtown San Rafael Library from its current Carnegie location to its future home at Albert Park presents an opportunity for significant expansion and modernization. Simultaneously, it opens avenues for exploring fresh and engaging possibilities for the Carnegie building itself. Drawing inspiration from other Carnegie libraries, such as the Snohomish Carnegie in Snohomish, Washington, which is rented out for public and private events, much like the Falkirk, this shift could generate additional revenue and establish a new historical venue for future generations to cherish.


Designating a portion of the Carnegie space for a bookstore catering to Friends of the Library would provide them with a dedicated area, facilitating their invaluable contributions to the library’s cause. This dedicated space could streamline their efforts, enabling them to continue their impactful work more efficiently, thus benefiting the library and the community it serves.  There are myriad civic uses for San Rafael’s Carnegie building.  Our Foundation appreciates the community’s desire to preserve this structure even as the library moves to larger and more suitable home in Albert Park.

More News

Empowering Progress: Introducing the Revitalize San Rafael Libraries & Community Center Advocacy Committee

The San Rafael Public Library Foundation is excited to introduce the Revitalize San Rafael Libraries & Community Center Sponsored by San Rafael Public Library Foundation advocacy committee. This committee will play a crucial role in securing the funds necessary to place our long-awaited downtown library on the ballot. As a Citizens Initiative, we will rely on non-tax-deductible contributions to support the political efforts for this measure. By uniting efforts between the San Rafael Public Library Foundation and the Revitalize San Rafael Libraries & Community Center, sponsored by the San Rafael Public Library Foundation, we can achieve far more together. Join us in making a difference—your donation today is invaluable!

The Future Unveiled – Albert Park’s New Downtown Library Conceptual Drawings Revealed!

In an exciting development for San Rafael, we are thrilled to present a sneak peek into the conceptual drawings created for the new downtown library at Albert Park. This is just an idea of what a future combined library and community center could look like, and should we succeed in passing a ballot measure, the City will review a range of designs before making a decision. But it is very exciting to see one possibility for the Albert park location. These drawings offer an preview of the building we hope will transform our cityscape, providing an enriching space for learning, collaboration, and cultural exchange.

We Need Your Support to Build a New Library to Serve Generations to Come!