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Tricycle Music Fest West

San Francisco Public Library
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Problem Statement

The library plays a key role in the City of San Francisco’s effort to retain and grow our populations of children, youth, and families. Over the last decade, there has been a disturbing trend of families leaving the city prior to their children’s entry to kindergarten due to the high cost of living and concerns about the public school system. We addressed the need to engage the growing number of families with young children, reaching them through the culturally popular medium of music, to raise awareness of the library as family destination, early literacy resource, and community anchor. We also addressed the lack of music literacy enrichment options for teachers and students in the local schools.


Tricycle Music Fest West was launched as San Francisco’s family music festival, helping young children develop phonological awareness, an important early literacy skill, and fostering community at the library. Children and their families flocked to the library for afternoons of live music by local bands featuring Frances England and The Time Outs. Modeled after Charlotte Mecklenberg’s original Tricycle Music Fest, the 2010 festival included four mini-concerts and one outdoor block party at the Main Library, in collaboration with Sunday Streets, a popular City sponsored community event. The program expanded its reach into the schools with on-site music literacy professional development trainings for teachers and interactive concerts for students at child development sites in the San Francisco Unified School District.


With hip marketing materials, a strong network of partners and new website with video highlights, Tricycle is now a recognized brand in San Francisco. All concerts continue to be well attended and eagerly anticipated by public and staff. One father boasted, “My child went to his first rock show at the library!” Despite a stormy Sunday, more than 500 families gathered at the Main Library for an afternoon of free live family rock music. The 2011 schedule is planned in conjunction with American Sabor, a major Smithsonian exhibit, and Hispanic Heritage Month to include Lucky Diaz, a Latino family rock group, with the goal of engaging more Latino families at the library. The pilot program in the schools heightened the library’s role as a community partner reaching 16 preschool classrooms in the city’s most challenged schools in a single month. One teacher shared, “Every school should have this opportunity. Every child needs music in her life.” The program evaluation also indicated all teachers increased their understanding of the importance of music to support a child’s literacy skills and gained new skills to employ in the classroom. The city family has implemented a variety of strategies to reverse the trend and the Library contributed an innovative solution.