The promise of a "Writers' Mixer" got me to walk through the doors of the Mechanics' Institute Library. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet other writers who are finding their way, as I am, and to hear about the critique groups that meet at the library throughout the week. Anyone who writes finds that, after a couple of revisions, he needs a reader in order to know if he is making sense. Who better to do him that favor than another writer in need of the same favor?
I was surprised to learn that a place named "Mechanics' Institute" offers such events, as well as a film series, appearances by all kinds of authors, book clubs, classes and so on; and, that its library has a general interest collection. The institute was founded in 1854 to offer vocational education to the many left out of work when the Gold Rush of 1849 went bust. Since then, it has adapted to the needs of its members.
So, for about the cost of subscribing to a daily newspaper, I joined the club. I had to ask myself why, considering that it duplicates some of what is available from The San Francisco Public Library, and that I remain a supporter and enthusiastic user of the Public. For one things, Mechanics' has a really cool clubhouse downtown:
For another thing, I admit I felt a thrill when the staff member who hosted the Writers' Mixer just happened to mention that Jack London and Ambrose Bierce are among the illustrious former members of the institute.
And for one more thing, they have this great workout center, which not only lets you get exercise, but also allows access to the four floors occupied by the institute: