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.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018, East Bay Express

R.B., on the other hand, is the 81st St. (sic) branch's bicycle whisperer. He's the COO of the Scraper Bike Team, a group founded in 2008 by Avery Pitman Jr. and Baby Champ to promote East Oakland bike culture. R.B. remembers seeing the group's founders holding court with bike kids. "I remember Avery Pitman Jr. standing at the top of his stairs, giving T-shirts to kids with nice bikes," R.B. said. "It was all about getting active in your community in a positive way."

When R.B. was growing up, having a bike meant freedom. "Now, for kids, giving them a bike means the difference between skipping school or not or getting a school lunch or not."

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Friday, February 23rd, 2018, California Report

“In books, they were mostly depicted as community helpers,” says Aleem. “And as [my kids] have gotten older and been more aware of current events, we’ve talked more and more about how, just like in every field, there are people who are thoughtful and conscious and want to do the right thing. And there are people on the police force who may not.”

Due in part to the Black Lives Matter movement, those are conversations that lots of parents are having these days — and have long been a part of child rearing for African-American families like Aleem’s.

To help guide those difficult discussions, Oakland librarians have created a toolkit for evaluating children’s books that feature police. It’s a publicly available document to help librarians and other educators examine whether a book accurately reflects how the law really works or reflects the full range of children’s realities.

“The problem we have with police books right now is there really isn’t much that represents that fearful side,” explains Amy Martin, the Oakland Public Library’s children’s collection management librarian. Martin spearheaded the creation of the toolkit. She takes out a picture book called “I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is In Trouble Today.”

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Sunday, February 18th, 2018, YourCentralValley.com

“He arrived with his cousin who was a white man in 1858,” said Curator Susan Anderson.

Anderson spends her days collecting stories of African-Americans for her museum in Oakland, California.

Recently we learned she had some information on hinds that could help in our search.  Anderson tells us that Hinds bought his first property in Tulare county in 1858. He would become quite successful and wealthy. Eventually, he relocated his family to Oakland.

“Oakland was a growing city at the time it had an established African-American community in 1901,” Anderson stated.

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Monday, February 12th, 2018, Newsweek

However, Martin noted a lack of children's books that offered a wide variety of outlooks and perceptions on children's experiences with police. 

"Police are depicted in overwhelmingly positive ways in children's books but there are many children in this country who are fearful of a police officer or know someone who has been harmed by a police officer," Martin argued.

In 2016, in the wake of multiple high-profile police killings of unarmed black men and women across the country, Martin began working on an online toolkit aimed at helping other librarians and educators provide more nuanced and complicated stories about police to young learners.

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Thursday, February 1st, 2018, East Bay Times

To celebrate Black History Month, Oakland’s African American Museum and Library will screen a series of films and discussions that highlight contributions of African-American veterans and soldiers.

The series, titled “African Americans in Times of War,” is free and open to the public; the screenings and discussions start at 2 p.m. every Saturday in February.

The series was named after and based on this year’s national Black History Month theme, which is decided annually by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, said the museum’s interim chief curator Susan Anderson, who curated the series.

Anderson said the films may surprise people about the important role African-American soldiers played in different wars, as well as the local connection.

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Friday, January 26th, 2018, Oakland North

In the meeting room at the Oakland Public Library’s Cesar Chavez Branch, girls grades 6 to 12 gather for their Tuesday club meeting. They remove their school backpacks and power on the laptops provided by the library. With some instruction from their club advisor, they immerse themselves in learning a new language: the language of coding.

This Girls Who Code club is one of the hundreds nationwide. This particular club location was launched four years ago. During each school year, from 5 pm to 7 pm, the girls come to the library to hang out and code with each other. January 23 was the first meeting for the spring school quarter.

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Friday, January 12th, 2018, Ed Week

National news about institutionalized racism, including in the law enforcement sector, have led to searing debates about the different ways in which communities of color experience policing.

Now, a group of Oakland, Calif., librarians have created an online toolkit aimed at helping other librarians, teachers, and other educators scrutinize children's books that depict the police—and think about where they may be coming up short.

Amy Martin, the children's collection management librarian for the Oakland Public Library, said she started working on the toolkit in 2016 in the days following the killing of Philando Castile by a police officer in Minnesota, which was recorded by his girlfriend and then went viral online. She started by going through her own library's collection of books about community helpers—firefighters, teachers, and so forth—and found patterns in how they discussed law enforcement.

"When they talk about police officers, they are consistently very positive about how police officers keep people safe. And that's the ideal, but not the reality that we always see," she said. 

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Friday, December 8th, 2017, Oakland North

Erin Sanders, branch manager at the Golden Gate Library, has helped develop community programming in partnership with the project. “There’s sort of this institutional veil that people see museums, archives and libraries as housing stories of ‘important’ people,” said Sanders. “That’s why this project is so interesting, because it’s community driven—all of the material will be from the community, and it is based on participation from the community.”

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Friday, November 3rd, 2017, KQED Forum

Olivia the Pig. Corduroy the Bear. Fancy Nancy. Captain Underpants. These are just some of the colorful characters who have captured kids’ imaginations over the years. What are your children’s favorite books? We ask our listeners – especially our tiniest ones! – for suggestions on the best children’s books, from classics to the latest selection.

Amy Martin, children’s collection librarian, Oakland Public Library
Christian Robinson, children’s book illustrator
Lauren Savage, owner, The Reading Bug, a children’s bookstore in San Carlos
Sara Wigglesworth, children’s book buyer, Green Apple Books

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Thursday, November 2nd, 2017, Oakland North

In the center of the room stood Miriam Medow, the children’s librarian, dressed for the occasion as a fuzzy blue dinosaur. She welcomed the kids with a song—“Come on and join the game, you’ll find that it’s always the same”—and had them follow along as she acted out different animal sounds.

Although the event drew a smaller crowd than usual—the library expects between 60 to 80 people each week for the Tuesday night story time—Medow was pleased with the turnout. “I wasn’t sure that they would show up,” she said. “It’s always beautiful to see people come together at the library, and on Halloween no less.”

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