For research needs in subject areas beyond the arts, architecture and design, there are a number of Bay Area Libraries with excellent collections, most of which are free to California residents. To obtain a library cards at the public libraries below simply bring a valid picture ID and proof of California address.
The San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) consists of the Main Library in the SF Civic Center, and 27 branches (see map) located throughout the city. SFPL has large circulating collections in the arts, literature, film, and music, as well substantial collections in subjects outside of the CCA Libraries' collection scope. SFPL library card owners can also access their collection of article databases online (see the SFPL database list).
The SFPL Art, Music, and Recreation Reference Department also maintains a Bay Area Visual Artists and Architects Index for their "collection of newspaper clippings, announcements of gallery shows, obituaries, magazine articles, or exhibit catalogs featur[ing] artists and architects who have lived or worked in the San Francisco Bay Area" from the 1960s to present. See also the Bay Area Musicians and Performing Arts Index and the online SF Historical Photo Collection.
The Oakland Public Library (OakPL) consists of the Main Library and 18 branches, including the Rockridge and Piedmont branches right in the neighborhood of the CCA OAK campus (see map). OakPL's collections are diverse, and library card owners can access full-text content from their online articles & databases from home.
Special OakPL collections include the African American Museum & Library, the Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgender collection of fiction and non-fiction at the Piedmont branch, the Oakland History Room at the Main library, and a Tool Lending Library (for residents of Oakland, Piedmont, and Emeryville only).
The Berkeley Public Library (BerkPL) consists of the Main Library and 4 branch libraries. Along with a diverse collection of books, videos, cds, and journals, BerkPL offers a circulating slide collection of over 25,000 art slides (not searchable online).
The UC Berkeley Libraries are generally open to California residents. See the CCA Libraries Guide to UCB Libraries for more information on the libraries collections and on CCA students and faculty access.
CCA students and faculty can access most SFSU library materials within the library. For borrowing privileges CCA students may purchase a library card for $45/year. CCA faculty can obtain a free Special borrower's card by presenting "current faculty identification from any college or university outside the CSU system [and] current photo identification such as a driver's license" at the library registration desk.
Prelinger Library, at 301 8th Street, Room 215 in San Francisco, is "an access-oriented, image-rich experimental research library of books, printed ephemera, and over 600 periodical titles. Serving readers, artists, scholars and other iconoclastic thinkers. Centered on histories of U.S. regions, culture, industry, landscape, natural history, media, and politics (and other things). Open to the public."