The Prelinger Library, San Francisco

Yesterday I met with Megan Shaw Prelinger and Rick Prelinger at the Prelinger Library, an incredible ‘appropriation-friendly’ and idiosyncratic archive (over 40,000 books, periodicals, printed ephemera and government documents), nestled in the outskirts of downtown San Francisco. Made up primarily of discarded material (though highly curated), the library employs a geospatial and ‘serendipitous browsing’ approach to shelving: beginning with the very local (San Francisco), ie. landscape and geography (the ‘American’ wall is arranged like a map) – and moving broadly through media and representation, historical consciousness and political narratives from beyond the mainstream.


Rick and Megan open the library to the public on Wednesday afternoons, and have on hand equipment for people to make copies of any material to take home.

For a more detailed account, read Megan’s essay on ‘The Organization of The Prelinger Library’