Mary Austin and Kathleen Burch, Founders of the San Francisco Center for the Book, recognized a growing need in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and on the West Coast for a facility specifically designed and equipped to support the appreciation, teaching, and creation of book arts. The first center of its kind on the West Coast, San Francisco Center for the Book was incorporated in March of 1996 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.


The grand opening celebration on July 30, 1996, of the first location of San Francisco Center for the Book on De Haro Street between 16th and 17th Streets, along an old railroad line in the Potrero Hill District, attracted an overflow crowd of more than 400 people. That first workshop season consisted of 64 students and a dozen classes.


By 2002, with the renaissance of book arts picking up steam, San Francisco Center for the Book moved to the north end of the same building, to larger accommodations that included a view of an old railcar next door, to house an ever-growing collection of bookbinding and letterpress equipment, tools, and type. To meet public demand, this move also provided space for more and larger workshops.


In early 2013, the San Francisco Center for the Book moved to a 7,000 square foot space just around the corner and across what used to be railroad tracks, to the Rhode Island Street side of the same block, in what is now known as the Do.Re.Mi (DOgpatch-PotREro-Hill-MIssion) Design and Arts District, surrounded on all sides by galleries, art studios and other arts organizations in a hub of art and design studios, galleries, and technology firms. The move to the larger space space allowed San Francisco Center for the Book to expand to include an exhibition gallery sitting aside the print studio, a platemaking lab, a separate bindery, arts and crafts room, and administrative offices.


Currently, San Francisco Center for the Book offers hundreds of workshops and serves thousands of students of all ages each year. In addition to our workshops, San Francisco Center for the Book also presents exhibitions and events, hosts special visits and hands-on demonstrations, and much more. Explore this website to learn about all the things San Francisco Center for the Book has to offer and come for a visit. We are looking forward to seeing you here!