Tucked away in the back of Viracocha on Valencia Street is a tiny lending library, carefully curated and impeccably kept. Founded by Kristina Kearns, Ourshelves was inspired by all the talk of the publishing industry’s impending death and Kearns’ personal desire to preserve books. “I wanted to create something between a bookshop and a library,” Kearns said. Ourshelves has been open since July, and has since gained over 90 paid members. Her philosophy is simple: good books and an active librarian to help readers find them. The space also features desks and a cozy reading nook.
Kearns now plans to open and curate 10 free sister libraries in safe houses, shelters, and student centers around San Francisco, with personalized collections based on the requests of residents. With help from a donation from the Awesome Foundation, the first will open next month in the Riley Center for victims of domestic abuse, located in the Women’s Building on 18th Street, and will feature books in several languages for adults, young adults, and children.