About Us

The Prelinger Library is an independent research library located in San Francisco’s South-of-Market neighborhood. It is open to anyone for research, reading, inspiration, and reuse.

The library is primarily a collection of 19th and 20th century historical ephemera, periodicals, maps, and books, most published in the United States. Much of the collection is image-rich, and in the public domain. The library specializes in material that is not commonly found in other public libraries. Read more about the collection here.

The library was co-founded in 2004 by Megan Prelinger and Rick Prelinger. Read more about our history here. It is also part of a community of local and international artists, writers, activists, and other makers. It is visited by as many as a thousand people every year. Many of these people, and many organizations and institutions, have contributed to the library and helped to make it what it is. Read more about our community here.

If you are moved to consider donating materials to the library, we would be delighted to hear from you. Over time, we have tried to assemble a collection that paints a picture of American history and culture through ephemera, periodicals, and books that were often not part of the cultural mainstream. This collection strategy, together with the practical limits on our shelf space, means that we are unable to provide a shelf for everything that is offered to us. Please contact us with a title list or description of your potential donations before bringing any material to the library.

We are a sponsored project of Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco. More information about how we are supported and how you can support us can be found here.


We have noticed that many people seem to confuse the library with other projects of the library’s co-founders, and even with other projects that are not ours. Sometimes we are even credited with the work of others. In response to the many questions we’ve received of this nature, here is the official disambiguation page.

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