Early Libraries on the Barbary Coast

Have you heard that Mel Gibson is preparing to write a television series set in San Francisco? In a recent article on Hoodline, the series “Barbary Coast” will be set in the Financial District, Chinatown and North Beach and based upon the book by Herbert Asbury with the same name. This book is indeed a page turner – filled with the brothels, gambling dens, saloons, hoodlums and prostitutes that will make up a good show à la Deadwood. There’s nothing about libraries in Asbury’s book however, which is irritating to this librarian/historian, because their role in San Francisco’s early days was fraught with politics, intrigue, and sometimes a bit of danger! Reading rooms, stocked with newspapers and books brought from the east, started cropping up in the City...