OPL in the News

Below, you can read selected media stories showcasing Oakland Public Library programs and staff. To view an archive of press releases from the library, click here.

Friday, July 7th, 2017, KQED - California Report

A drag queen and a 4-year-old walk into a public library. It’s not the setup to a joke — it’s Saturday morning in Oakland at the Drag Queen Story Hour.

Hundreds of parents and kids crowded into the Dimond Recreation Center on a recent Saturday to hear drag queen Black Benatar read Pride-themed storybooks.

According to its website, Drag Queen Story Hour is “just what it sounds like — drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools and bookstores.” The program started in San Francisco and has spread to cities across the United States.

Miriam Meadow first heard about Drag Queen Story Hour when it was held at the San Francisco Public Library two years ago. She immediately knew she wanted to bring it to the East Bay. Meadow is the children’s librarian at the Dimond Branch Library.

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Thursday, July 6th, 2017, KALW Crosscurrents/Audiograph

Chairs are moved back and strollers pushed outside as kids, toddlers, and parents pack the recreation room. Oakland’s first Drag Queen Story Hour is a hit. More than 300 people show up for story time with Beatrice Thomas, whose alter ego is Black Benatar. 

Dressed in a bright green dress, stilettos, and big, blonde hair, Black Benatar starts off with what she calls a “drag queen primer.” She asks the crowd, “So how does a drag queen say hello?” She demonstrates, and the room laughs and echos back, “He-eyyyyyyy!” And for the real hello, she says, “If you see a really close friend, and gender is not an issue, you go ‘Heyy girrrrrllll!” The crowd calls back, “Hey GIRRRLL!”

By the second book, kids are on their feet at the front of the large circle, jumping and laughing through the story. Some recognize books like “This Day In June,” a story of the annual Pride Parade and everyone who is a part of it. Black Benatar reads, “This day in June, parades start soon. Rainbow arches, joyful marches... Motors roaring, spirits soaring... Woo!”

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Wednesday, June 7th, 2017, East Bay Times

Teaming up with the California State Library, Facebook’s Oculus said Wednesday it hopes to bridge the digital divide by donating 100 sets of Rift headsets, touch controllers and computers to 90 libraries throughout California as part of a new pilot program.

Participating libraries include those in San Jose, Berkeley, Oakland, Sunnyvale, Campbell and other locations in the Bay Area.

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Thursday, June 1st, 2017, East Bay Times

The city’s library is finding new ways to connect to residents, adding  bicycle bookmobiles that staffers pedal to community festivals and hand out free books, while also documenting people’s recollections of a neighborhood quickly changing.

Librarians and supporters rolled out two new bicycle-powered bookmobiles Saturday at the Main Library on 14th Street for a ride down Grand Avenue along Lake Merritt to the Lakeview Branch.

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Monday, May 1st, 2017, American Libraries

At Oakland (Calif.) Public Library (OPL), Nina Lindsay, children’s services coordinator and president-elect of the Association for Library Service to Children, manages youth programming across 17 libraries. Lately, her staff members have fielded an unprecedented number of worries from their patrons: Is my family going to be separated? Am I going to be deported? Is Dad ever going to be able to join us?

About a year ago, OPL librarians hung a poster by local artist Micah Bazant of a headscarf-clad woman with the words “Everyone Is Welcome Here.” Bazant designed the poster after OPL librarian Amy Sonnie informed the artist that local literacy class students were routinely harassed on the street. The pair launched the poster in partnership with members of the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, and Bazant now provides the poster free of charge for noncommercial use.

“We feel that the Library Bill of Rights is very clearly expressed through that statement—‘Everyone is welcome here,’” says Lindsay. “It’s important for us to make visible [those] communities who otherwise may feel marginalized.”

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Monday, May 1st, 2017, Bike East Bay

Oakland Public Library (OPL) has creatively and innovatively made bike-friendly spaces for employees and patrons at their 18 locations. From community bike shop The Shed at the MLK Branch to kamishibai - children’s storytelling on the back of a bike - to good old indoor bike parking, OPL supports what staff and community like, want, and need. Lots of employees bike to work, so lots of branches have ever-improving bike parking, pumps and locks, tools, and even shower facilities available.

OPL goes above and beyond to promote bicycling, by supporting librarians professionally sharing their passion for bikes. Additionally, OPL is building a network and a conversation about the role of libraries in public space and as sources of free information, and sends librarians to present and learn at non-library events, such as the California Bicycle Summit. Mana and Emily have been producing a series of webinars for other libraries to share approaches for being bike-friendly.

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Thursday, March 16th, 2017, The Mercury News

Libraries have always responded to what the community needs, says Winifred Walters, community relations specialist for the Oakland Public Library. For instance, she notes the popular tool lending library near the Temescal branch, which emerged as a response to the 1991 Oakland hills fire that destroyed thousands of homes.

“We got the idea that we could lend tools to people working on rebuilding their homes,” she says. “But it’s become a core service. There are lines out the door regularly.”

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Wednesday, March 15th, 2017, Hoodline

If you live in Oakland and haven't filed your taxes yet, don't worry; in partnership with AARP, Oakland Public Library is offering free tax filing assistance at its Main, Eastmont, Golden Gate and Cesar Chavez branches.

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Tuesday, March 14th, 2017, Oakland Tribune/East Bay Times

How about toy fire trucks, dump trucks and recycling trucks, even? The Oakland Public Library has all those and more, available for check-out at a growing number of branches.

They are all part of the toy lending library, now in its second year with no end in sight. The library has exhausted the Pacific Library Partnership Innovations & Technology Grant provided in 2014 to establish one of only a very few public library toy programs in the country, but the program’s success has led to its now being included in the library’s collection budget.

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Monday, March 13th, 2017, Library Journal

Working with OPL administrators, Propernick and Burnette found grants to pay for tools and parts, including free helmets. Between 20 and 40 youths attend the clinics. More than 500 bikes have been repaired and 1,000 flats fixed, Turbak says. Burnette, who is also president of the Original Scraper Bike Team, a community-oriented group that works with kids 12–18 to repair, decorate, and customize their bicycles, joined the 81st Avenue Branch in December 2014.

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