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.

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, KALW

Libraries aren’t the most practical place for an exercise dance party, but the library decided to make an exception. The 81st Avenue branch is in a high-crime area of East Oakland, so it’s always looking for ways to get people together over something positive. When Ariella approached the library about leading a class, Anthony Propernick, the Senior Library Assistant here, didn’t see why not.  He says, "If the community wants a Zumba class and it's something we can provide and make sure it's something that doesn’t spill over into the library, we should share it with them.”

When the class starts, Ariella doesn’t seem so afraid to be in front of the room. She even speaks to the women in both English and Spanish. She emphasizes that she is mostly there to keep everyone motivated. The video starts, and the 13 or so women standing behind Ariella mimic the moves on the screen. Occasionally, Ariella turns around and smiles or gestures to the class to step it up a notch. Everyone looks to be having a good time.

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Thursday, August 8th, 2013, Oakland Tribune

The Youth Poet Laureate competition, which is meant to recognize and honor youth expression, is in its second year. It is hosted by the Oakland Public Library's Teen Services Department, in partnership with Youth Speaks, ProArts Gallery, Oakland School for the Arts as well as some community partners.

"This contest celebrates Oakland's visionaries," said Amy Sonnie, teen outreach librarian at Oakland Public Library. "These young voices are shaping the present of our city and building a more vibrant future for the city of Oakland."

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Tuesday, August 6th, 2013, Rockridge Patch

"'Expertly balancing a focused rage with an irrepressible tenderness, Davis is certain to inspire and activate a new generation of leaders through both the written and spoken word.

Now in its second year, the Youth Poet Laureate competition was staged by Oakland Public Library’s Teen Services Department, in partnership with Youth Speaks, ProArts Gallery, Oakland School for the Arts and more than a dozen community partners.

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Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, San Jose Mercury News

The renovated modular classroom building that now houses the branch at 80 Echo Ave. is 1,920 square feet, about 200 more square feet than the 41st Avenue site. It also offers more seating, a handicapped-accessible restroom and two computers.

The branch retains its collection of nonfiction, fiction, children's books and audio materials. Long known for its extensive materials pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the branch has, like others in the system, integrated that collection into its general collection. Branch manager Jenera Burton said she didn't know what to expect after the move, but said all signs indicate use of the library is expanding. The branch works closely with the school to provide access during and after class.

"We are getting different families, and we are definitely seeing new faces," Burton said.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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