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Monday, December 20, 2010

San Francisco Library *Does* Know How Many Books It Has After All. Whew!

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 12:10 AM

click to enlarge Some questions cannot be answered
  • Some questions cannot be answered

Last week, after a series of inquiries, we were informed by San Francisco Public Library staff that they did not know how many books they had. Shockingly, their "Millennium" system allows them to track how many "titles" they have -- that'd be The Sun Also Rises, The Tempest, Lonesome Dove, etc. -- but not how many "items" -- that's the raw number of books, videos, and whatnot.

Library spokeswoman Michelle Jeffers now tells us she "misspoke." The Millennium system may indeed be clunky, but, with proper programming -- and, perhaps, a smack or two -- it can reveal how many items the library actually possesses.

It turns out that the library is the proud owner of 2,195,124 books and 3,325,622 total items (DVDs, e-books, vinyls, etc.).

While it'd certainly make a better story if the library didn't know how many books it had -- and, in San Francisco, it wouldn't be at all surprising -- it's reassuring to know it isn't the case.

That being said, the library is still incapable of ranking its titles in terms of how many copies of each it owns. So our original query -- what book does the library have the most copies of? -- is not answerable.

It'd be nice to know. But, at this point, we're going to close the book on this subject.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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