You can tell Molly McCall loves her job.
Standing next to a shelf of stacks of books she’s organized – “my babies,” she called them – her abundant bliss is worthy of a children’s librarian.
During the pandemic, McCall said, the library bought a lot of new books. The prizes helped distribute the books to neighborhood children and were “a fun way for people to try new things.”
A regular came to pick up some books and McCall greeted her by name.
She and other San Francisco Public Library staff serve the mission community from a bookmobile parked at John O’Connell High School on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The SFPL To Go Go – Pop-up Pickup Service provides a reserve shelf, a few new books to pay for, and information on other library services like interbank lending that allows people to borrow books that San Francisco branches don’t have from other libraries. There are also several free book bins.
âWe are providing this library service while Mission Branch is closedâ¦ because they are doing this big and exciting renovation,â said McCall. She hinted that they might expand bookmobile service as well, but can’t say much more. Earlier this year, the library said it was looking for temporary space but had not yet found one.
Originally, McCall didn’t think she was made to be a librarian.
âI thought I was too strong,â she said (and laughs happily). âBut being a children’s librarian is actually the perfect match. “
âOf course, there is a place for quiet and study, and libraries are thoughtful places,â McCall said. But she emphasizes that the modern library is also “alive, alive”.
The Mission branch is a prime example, she says. âWhen you step into the Mission branch, you see how totally alive it is and how filled with people of all ages. “
McCall has now worked for over ten years at libraries in San Francisco and the Peninsula.
She currently lives in Bernal Heights, where the local branch is open. She said she liked the fact that the Mission and Bernal branches were “old. Carnegie Libraries– a library built with donations from steel baron and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
âThey’re neighborhood libraries, but they really have a sense of grandeur,â she said, noting that each branch also has a âgreat, kid-friendly placeâ.
Before libraries, McCall worked for an independent bookseller, Kepler Books and Magazines, and for Yahoo as a writer-editor.
âIn library school, I was struck by the fact that librarians or library students come from all walks of life and all ages,â she said. âIt enriches the profession.
During the pandemic, McCall, along with many other librarians, was activated as an emergency service worker. She said she went from creating video tutorials for kids on how to access virtual library services to serving meals to the homeless and finding contacts (“which was very intense” ).
âIt was a big use of the library staff,â McCall said. âWe are civil servants.
But she was happy to find her way back to the library.
âIt was always about books, reading and information,â she said. “And then when I finally came back, when I got to this, I felt like it all came together.”