Descriptive Title: Population within ½ mile and 1 mile of a public library

Geographic Unit of Analysis: Point

Proportion of population within 1/2 and 1 mile of a public library (2010)
Neighborhood% within 1/2 mile% within 1 mile
Bayview/Hunter's Point 57% 96%
Bernal Heights 83% 100%
Castro/Upper Market 77% 100%
Chinatown 100% 100%
Excelsior 58% 100%
Financial District/South Beach 22% 100%
Glen Park
Golden Gate Park 100% 100%
Haight Ashbury 67% 100%
Hayes Valley
Inner Richmond 64% 100%
Inner Sunset 38% 98%
Lakeshore 35% 87%
Lincoln Park
Lone Mountain/USF
Marina 78% 100%
McLaren Park
Mission 47% 100%
Mission Bay
Nob Hill 79% 100%
Noe Valley 85% 100%
North Beach 98% 100%
Outer Mission 36% 94%
Outer Richmond 41% 100%
Pacific Heights 97% 100%
Potrero Hill 82% 100%
Presidio 12% 69%
Presidio Heights 47% 100%
Russian Hill 93% 100%
San Francisco 58% 97%
Seacliff 10% 88%
South of Market 44% 98%
Treasure Island 0% 0%
Twin Peaks 5% 96%
Visitacion Valley 70% 100%
West of Twin Peaks 53% 100%
Western Addition 46% 100%

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

The physical presence of libraries is one component necessary for improved literacy and access to health information. Libraries serve as important public educational and cultural facilities that help to disseminate health information to health providers and the general public, promote general and health literacy, consolidate information on vulnerable populations, organize/filter and improve access to reliable internet resources, facilitate educational collaborations between agencies and communities, and promote art and cultural activities both on and off library property.

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

The neighborhoods with the greatest geographic access to public libraries are Chinatown, North Beach, Pacific Heights, and Russian Hill which all have 93% or more of their residents within ½ mile of a public library. Treasure Island and Crocker Amazon have the poorest library access, with no residents being within ½ mile of a library and only 20% of residents being within 1 mile in Crocker Amazon. All but five neighborhoods have at least 93% of their residents within 1 mile of a library. In addition to Treasure Island and Crocker Amazon, Seacliff, Lakeshore, and Presidio also have poorer library access compared to the rest of San Francisco.

In 2000, San Francisco voters approved a $105.9 million bond to improve San Francisco Branch Libraries which would replace four leased facilities with City-owned buildings, renovate sixteen branches, construct a new branch (the first in 40 years) in Mission Bay, and replace three branches with new buildings. According to the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), the priorities of the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) are to "reduce seismic risk, comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), meet modern technological needs and current code requirements, and provide spaces that are responsive to current services, yet flexible enough to meet future needs." ( Thus far, renovations have been completed and six new branch buildings have been opened. The Bayview branch is currently under construction and is planned to open in December 2012 and the North Beach branch is in the design or bid phase.


San Francisco public library addresses were mapped using ArcGIS 10.0. One and half mile buffers were drawn around each library. The number of residents living within each residential lot in the city was estimated using Census data and a dasymetric mapping technique (see Data Sources section for more information). We then selected the residential lots that fell within each buffer and summed the number of residents within those lots. The number of residents living within the buffers was then divided by the total number of residents living within the neighborhood to calculate neighborhood library access.


For this indicator, buffers are created at both 1/2 mile and 1 mile around each library. For other SCI indicators, proximity to a public service is measured as being within a 1/4 or 1/2 mile. In public health research, 1/2 mile is commonly considered a "walkable distance" for most Americans. Given the immense number of resources needed to build and maintain a library, it is an unrealistic goal to have all of San Francisco's population within 1/2 mile of a public library, thus, we also included the additional 1 mile buffer.

However, geographic proximity does not necessarily equal access. There may be numerous factors impeding regular use of a library's services including: hours of operation, transportation to/from the facility, cultural or language differences, perceived or actual safety near the library, educational attainment, literacy, access to the internet, disability access, or geographic barriers (such as major highways or roads).

As of March 2012, The Bayview/Ana E. Waden Library was closed for renovations and is temporarily located at the Bayview YMCA on Lane St. While Treasure Island does not have a dedicated library yet, the Branch Library Bookmobile is located at the Treasure Island Community Center every Thursday 10:30am-4:30pm.

Data Source

List of Library Facilities from San Francisco Public Library. Accessed August  2011:

Population data from the US Census 2010

Map and table created by San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section using ArcGIS software.

Table data is presented by planning neighborhood. While planning neighborhoods are larger geographic areas than census tracts, census tracts do not always lie completely within a planning neighborhood. SFDPH used ArcGIS software and a dasymetric mapping technique to attribute Census block group data to residential lots. We then assigned residential lots to planning neighborhoods to calculate Census population totals within the neighborhoods.

Detailed information regarding census data, geographic units of analysis, their definitions, and their boundaries can be found at the following links:

Interactive boundaries map