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05/08/2020 - 9:54am


Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov Pale Fire
Christopher Hampton Embers

David Dean Barrett 140 days to Hiroshima : the story of Japan's last chance to avert Armageddon
Frank B Wilderson...

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05/06/2020 - 9:15am

A few years ago, when former Chess Director, John Donaldson, handed me the Chess Room Visitor’s Register to place into the archives, he pointed out several notable signatures of Mechanics’ Institute’s Chess Room visitors and players. Among these names was Norman T. Whitaker, whom Donaldson described as a “con man”  saying he “had something to do with exto...

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05/04/2020 - 1:55pm

During this shelter-in-place, I’ve noticed that several deceased members of Mechanics’ Institute (MI) are busier than ever. A number of recent events and new research has shed more light on the several former members’ past activities.

Wednesday (4/29) was Adolph Sutro’s 190th birthday. Sutro was not a consistent MI member, likely because he was wealthy enough to have his own gigantic library. But he was a...

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05/01/2020 - 5:37pm

As we all shelter at home during the pandemic, we are finding numerous ways to entertain ourselves whether it is by reading, watching DVDs, or listening to audiobooks. I know that I am reading about 3 books per week besides doing jigsaw puzzles, cooking, binge-watching baking shows, and cleaning out closets!

So far, my favorite book has been the new fantasy novel by Sarah J. Maas, House of Earth and Blood, the first book of her Crescent City trilogy. ...

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04/30/2020 - 5:24pm


Lisa Wingate The book of lost friends
Sarah Pinborough Dead to her
Chris Hauty Deep State
Celeste Ng Everything I never told you
Kathleen Barber...

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04/30/2020 - 1:59pm

San Francisco and California 20th-Century U.S. History, Part 1 of 4

The Mechanics’ Institute holds hundreds of titles in e-book format, including a wealth of history books. In fact, our digital history collection includes some forty sub-topics (mostly geographical). In this, the first of four lists we’ll be posting, you’ll find a sample of our e-book offerings on local and state history.

Click on any title below to learn more abou...

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04/29/2020 - 12:12pm


Kim Shuck, the seventh poet laureate of San Francisco, is a fifth-generation resident of the city. She’s also a community activist, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and an accomplished visual artist whose beadwork has been exhibited across the U.S. The author of seven collections of poems, including 2019’s Deer Trails, Shuck is known for spare, accessible lines that reference nature and, often, San Francisco’s indigenous roots. As Natio...

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04/28/2020 - 3:06pm




Do you have fond memories of a library you’ve visited? If so, you’ll relate to the following recollections from Mechanics’ Institute staff about libraries they’ve loved—and never, ever forgotten. (Scroll to the end for info on how to share your own story.)


From Pit Stop to Passion

My first real love for a library was by accident. Riding my bi...

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04/28/2020 - 11:23am

The Mechanics Institute now offers streaming video! The Kanopy online video streaming platform offers thousands of classic films, educational videos, documentaries, indie, art house, foreign films, and more. 

After clicking on this link you will need to authenticate using your Mechanics Institute barcode (the long number on the back of your membership card). This will lead you to an online...

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04/27/2020 - 11:16am

As a public service during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Theatre of London places a video of one of its live performances on YouTube for free for a week at a time. This week enjoy a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, with Tamsin Grieg as "Malvolia," until Wednesday, April 30th, 7 p.m. UK time (That is noon Pacific Daylight Time).

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