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.

Thursday, July 18th, 2013, Fox News

That's exactly what happened at the Oakland library following a 1991 firestorm that ravaged the Oakland Hills section of the San Francisco Bay area, destroying 3,000 homes and killing 25 people.

The library's Temescal branch established a small Home Resources Collection to help residents with their rebuilding and repair projects following this disaster.

A tool-lending library was considered as an extension of those efforts and was launched in 2000 thanks to seed money from a community development block grant.

Of the 5,000 tools available to patrons, the most popular items by far are the weed whackers, said Sharon McKellar, community relations librarian, who added that hedge trimmers and lawn mowers also are in seasonal high demand.

Read the full story
Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, East Bay Express

The History Room in the Main Branch of the Oakland Public Library is a positively rich repository of local history. Located on the library's second floor, the history room contains items such as yellowed newspaper clippings and old photographs chronicling everything from Oakland birth and death records to the history of the city's lakes and creeks — much of which can be pored over and photocopied by amateur and professional historians alike. Visitors to the room can view rotating historical exhibits and dig for answers to burning questions like, "What on earth is that weird old windmill doing up near 60th and Telegraph?" and, "Did Oakland really used to have a streetcar line?" And if ever you need help exploring, a friendly librarian is always on hand to help you along the way.

Read the full story
Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, East Bay Express

At local libraries you'll find children reading to dogs, lawyers dispensing free legal advice, and even people playing ping-pong. But perhaps one of the most innovative and relevant uses of the library in recent years is the offering of free lunches to kids during the summer. The ongoing partnership between the Oakland Public Library and the Alameda County Community Food Bank provides free cold lunches to youths under the age of eighteen, Monday through Friday, allowing hungry kids to concentrate on reading and other activities while they're at the library. It's a response to the ongoing problem of children who rely on subsidized meals at school during the academic year who have less access to food during the summer. About 7,000 meals were served last summer; this year the library expects to serve even more, and other library systems have taken notice. This year, Oakland Public Library staffers will act as advisers to library systems in San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Fresno, as they launch their own pilot programs.

Read the full story
Saturday, July 6th, 2013, The Post News Group

An innovative partnership between the Alameda County Social Services Agency (SSA) and the Hayward and Oakland Public Libraries is transforming waiting room time at the Agency’s Self Sufficiency Centers into an opportunity to promote family literacy, enjoyment of reading, and awareness of public library services. Read While You Wait brings family story time programs delivered by children’s librarians to SSA’s waiting rooms.

Read the full story
Monday, June 10th, 2013, California Health Report

Then, in summer 2011, OPL partnered with the City of Oakland and Alameda County Food Bank to provide meals for children in the library through one of the USDA’s summer nutrition programs.

“It sounded revolutionary, but I knew it was probably something we could do,” says Nina Linsday, supervising librarian for OPL children’s services. “We’ve always been in the business of trying to find information to help people, but more and more we’re trying to connect them with the end product of what they need. Rather than coming in the library to find out where they can get food, we can give people free food in the library and it makes it much more seamless.”

That first summer, the program started on a trial basis at four branches in the library system. Food bank volunteers served food to children, and librarians read to kids as they ate. The libraries began to shift their program schedule to offer activities to kids after lunch—while their bellies were full, so they could concentrate.

The endeavor was so successful that OPL expanded the program to 11 branches in 2012, serving over 7,500 meals to children throughout the summer. “Since then, I haven’t been asked for lunch money,” says Villaseñor.

Read the full story
Monday, June 3rd, 2013, examiner.com

Today, the library has more than 12,000 volumes and 400 DVDs and videos. It is an excellent resource for community members and professional researchers alike. Primary research documents on slavery, and African American military service.

It holds unique documents and letters from Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Ida B. Wells, Benjamin Banneker, and other notable activists and intellectuals in the African American community.

Staying true to its Oakland focus, the museum has one of the largest collections of information and memorabilia on the Black Panthers. Finally, the AAMLO also has many children’s books of special interest to African Americans.

Read the full story
Thursday, March 14th, 2013, Current.org

But it’s been the library appearances that have kept Hear Here moving smoothly along. Within a few months of the project’s launch, Mu and team noticed that their relationships with library staff members had developed into something special.

“We were seeing that our library partnerships were really paying off because we were investing a lotof time and effort into trust-building,” said Mu.

To reach certain communities, Hear Here’s producers knew they needed liaisons if they were to achieve the levels of engagement that they sought. They recognized that the staffs of neighborhood libraries had built reservoirs of trust within their communities that would help facilitate Hear Here’s work.

“We built a relationship with the community,” said Anthony Propernick, a senior library assistant who has a background in community studies and works with at-risk youth. “Then we bring in programs based on their needs.”

Read the full story
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013, CBS

About 20 people searching for work gathered in the basement of the Oakland Public Library’s main branch for Job on!, a series of four classes taught by teacher, small-business owner and librarian Nancy Rhoda.

“People are the ones that make the hiring decisions. So you can be friendly with the internet, but unless you’re friendly with some of those people you’re not going to get a job,” she said.

Rhoda explained that networking in person exposes you to unadvertised jobs or what she calls the hidden job market.

Read the full story
Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, Oakland Local

Gone are the days when libraries and museums are just for checking out books and displaying artifacts. 

The libraries of the 21st century not only offer more resources but serve as a conduit to the community. When one walks into the African American Library and Museum of Oakland, or AALMO, there is a sense of coming home.

AAMLO opened in 2002 as a part of the Oakland Public Library system. The first floor houses a non-circulating library as AAMLO is a research institution for African American history.

"The mission of the organization is to preserve African American history," Veda Silva, Museum Project Coordinator, said. She works closely with Chief Curator Rick Moss. 

Read the full story
Friday, February 8th, 2013, Oakland North

Ofori teaches the kids a simple West African dance in four steps. He takes them through each step as a group, and gradually adds more movements.

The fifth graders go to E.C. Reems Academy in East Oakland. They’ve come to the library on a Black History Month field trip. Ofori, their guide, is a master percussionist from Ghana who’s teaching them about West African rhythms and culture. Today’s West African drumming event is free and open to the public, so it’s an affordable way for schools with lean operating budgets to celebrate Black History month and teach African American students about their heritage.

“The second time we’re going to roll our waists,” says Ofori.

The kids erupt in laughter.

Read the full story