San Mateo County Libraries Turns the Page on Period Equity

New Offering Will Provide Free Period Products Across 13 Libraries

Media Contact:

Katie Woods
San Mateo County Libraries
(650) 556-5209

SAN MATEO COUNTY, CA — San Mateo County Libraries is turning the page on period poverty by providing free period product supplies to any patron who needs them. In an effort to support menstrual equity and to help fight the stigma surrounding menstruation, all 13 community libraries now offer period products at no cost.  

Though period supplies like pads and tampons are as necessary as toilet paper and soap, they’re not often readily available or affordable. Studies have shown that one in five teens struggles to afford period supplies, and 86% of women surveyed said they started their period unexpectedly in a public space. This can be stressful and interrupt daily life. 

“No one should have to leave the library where they are studying, reading or exploring because they don’t have the simple supplies they need. With free period products, patrons can get what they need comfortably and continue their library visit,” Sara McDowell, Library JPA Governing Board Chair, said. 

With this new initiative, the library system will help meet a basic need.

“San Mateo County Libraries is proud to join a growing number of public organizations that are joining this national movement,” Anne-Marie Despain, Director of Library Services, said. “We hope that providing these essential supplies in our libraries will help support and alleviate stress for those individuals experiencing a lack of access to menstrual products.” 

To mark the launch of this new project, we are hosting special Power Up Afternoons events featuring authors Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann on March 27. These events will feature a special behind-the-scenes look at how they created their graphic novel Go With the Flow. The book is a dive into friendship, periods, puberty, menstrual equity and what it means to be an activist. This will be an interactive livestream at the library. Recommended for 5th grade and up. 

About San Mateo County Libraries
San Mateo County Libraries is a Joint Powers Authority that operates libraries in the communities of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, North Fair Oaks, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Carlos and Woodside. San Mateo County Libraries ignite growth through transformative experiences. Visit for information about our community libraries, extensive digital and physical collections, innovative services, and numerous online resources and virtual programs and events.