Recently, I had the great pleasure to celebrate my birthday at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Founded in 1996, the SFCB was formed to further the appreciation, teaching, and creation of the book arts. The Center currently offers over 300 workshops annually and hosts numerous exhibitions and events.

For many reasons, the San Francisco Center for the Book was a perfect venue for my small celebration and the literary theme carried through the night with a book exchange and donations made to local non-profits who support developing writers (,, and

But it is as a historian that I feel most connected to the vision and the mission of the San Francisco Center for the Book.

When you walk into the invitingly modern space at 375 Rhode Island St., what stands out are the printing presses. They are beautiful pieces of machinery. Lined up, stout and intimidating, they exude power; the power of revolution that dates back to 1440 when Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press based on the existing screw presses.

And while the printing press has undergone an evolution in form, its function as a force of change continues. From Martin Luther’s 95 theses to the pamphlets and newspapers of the American Revolution to 3-D printing which is transforming surgery and our human bodies, the revolution continues.

The night of my birthday party I talked and laughed with guests. I celebrated friendships both recent and lifelong.  And I toasted another revolution of the sun as it shines in my life.

In the quiet after everyone had gone, as the Gent and I cleaned up, wrapping food and washing glasses, I found my attention drawn back to the printing presses again and again. As a historian, I was taken by what they had made possible over centuries, and as a person celebrating a mere half-century of life, I couldn’t help but be excited to see what else will be possible in the future.

For more information about the courses offered at the San Francisco Center for the Book, please visit their website.