Friday, March 27th, 2020

TinyCat’s March Library of the Month: The Sitting Room Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re featuring the library of the Sitting Room!

Karen Peterson, Librarian and co-founder of the Sitting Room with J.J. Wilson, fielded my questions this month:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Sitting Room provides the local community with a library and reading room for researching women’s literature, art and related issues. To that end, we present cultural events such as poetry readings, lectures, exhibits, and performances, and we provide a place for writers’ workshops and other educational activities. The building and cataloguing of an extensive collection of reading and research material and the development of a supportive, friendly, non-intimidating environment for study are thus primary.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

The Sitting Room is within walking distance of Sonoma State University and we are fortunate to have regular student interns work with us. We have also served as a residency for students in the online Masters of Library Science program at San José State University. Northern California is home to an abundance of writers and artists and our public events provide a space for them to share their work. All special events are free and open to all, no membership needed or gender excluded. The free monthly book groups and writing workshops are open to all and provide a unique emphasis on women’s voices and visions.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We have a fabulous 1,000-volume collection of poetry filling an entire wall. Many of these are chapbooks by local as well as nationally renowned women poets. The chapbook collection of over 400 has the droll name “Spineless Wonders.”

One of the founders of The Sitting Room, J.J. Wilson, is a Virginia Woolf scholar. Over the course of her research and teaching, she amassed an amazing collection of Woolf’s writing and critical works, and creative works and history of the Bloomsbury Group.

Our International Fiction collection provides excellent opportunities to experience how women writers view and experience their native countries. Historical and contemporary perspectives from a wide range of countries are represented. With over 600 volumes, and some hard to find translations, it is a great browsing collection, either in person or online through TinyCat.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

The Sitting Room is located in a lovely home surrounded by redwood trees. We have a kitchen! And all are welcome to brew a cup of tea or join us for lunch. The domestic setting suits the collection and while visitors are at first a bit bemused to find us in a residential neighborhood, they quickly make themselves at home.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

First of all, TinyCat is quite simply visually appealing. We love the parade of book jackets that adorn the simple search page, announcing recently cataloged items. The design draws people in: it is inviting, not intimidating.

Some items are on our implementation wish list:

  • We would love to be able to curate the animated cover display on the home page.
  • We don’t use the circulation module of TinyCat, but would love to generate some usage statistics.

Great suggestions. Customizing the cover display is on our list of requests, and you can add your own Google Analytics to your TinyCat via the custom JavaScript setting on your Content Settings page. Hope this helps!

Want to learn more about the Sitting Room? Follow them on Facebook, visit their website here, and check out their collection on TinyCat.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat


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