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The San Francisco Public Library’s Treasure Island branch is inside a vending machine

Windswept, perpetually under construction, Treasure Island—a man-made landmass in the middle of the bay built for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition—isn’t normally thought of as a destination for readers.

But that changed this weekend with the unveiling of the The new Treasure Island branch of the San Francisco Public Library. To visit it, go to the Island Cove Market at 800 Ave. H, Suite 5. It’s there by the door: a vending machine similar to the type that dispenses Hostess Twinkies, only this one is full of books.

San Francisco’s first-ever “Book Stop” kiosk is an experiment to make library deserts greener with small or mobile book repositories. The public library also has traveling Bookmobiles, which serve Treasure Island’s small population. But this new “library” is planted firmly in place, in a grocery/eatery that slings shawarma sandwiches and bacon-eggs and offers services to anyone with a library card. (To get yours here!)

A view of the book vending machine when it is open. (SF Public Library) (San Francisco Public Library)

“Our mission is to ensure that every San Franciscan has access to books and the joy of reading,” said Michael Lambert, San Francisco city librarian. “The SFPL Book Stop takes us one step further in that direction. We really couldn’t wish for a better location than the Island Cove Market, a beloved community center on Treasure Island.”

About 25 people attended the ribbon cutting of the machine on Saturday. The first to lend a book was Matt Dorsey, District 6 supervisor. He chose ‘Spare’, Prince Harry’s 2023 memoir written by JR Moehringer. (New Yorker judgement: “The exiled prince does not hesitate to describe the pettiness, the vanity and the inglorious self-preservation of those who are now the highest representatives of the monarchy.”)

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“Treasure Island is always a great place to come, a great place to spend the weekend and go for a run,” says Dorsey. “This is a part of the city that is often unseen. The Bookmobile is here, and we’re doing this innovative library hub to bring library services here.”

The library gives these directions before using the machine:

1. Scan your card.
2. Enter your PIN.
3. Open the door.
4. Take your books with you – they are automatically lent when you close the door!
5. Return to the SFPL Book Stop (ideally!) or another library location.

This kiosk can hold up to 200 books. “We have something for everyone – the most popular titles in our collection, from children’s books to adult books, fiction and non-fiction,” says library spokeswoman Jaime Wong. “Our Collections team will monitor the trends of what is being checked out and will continue to develop the collection based on the needs and interests of the Treasure Island community. ”

Wong adds, “A fun fact is that you can pick up cookbooks from the kiosk, which is a good fit given that the kiosk is located in Treasure Island’s main supermarket.”



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