It is finally time for the second in a series of blog posts that let you meet some of our most amazing library patrons. Today, I'm very excited to introduce you to Nakia M. White. Nakie is not only an active library user, but she is an active member of the community in a variety of other inspiring ways. Oakland is lucky to have her, and we are so happy she shared a little bit of herself with us here today!
Nakia works for a public agency in Oakland, but outside of that is involved as both a reader and writer in her community. Nakia describes herself in her own words:
"Reading is my first love, so much so that I have a blog dedicated to my favorite authors: Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou. ZoraToniMaya.com is where I share literary news and book reviews to shine light on Black authors around the world. (Please do click over and read Nakia's wonderful blog. - Editor)
I also co-created a national book club, BookTini, which focuses on book discussions paired with wine or spirits each month. We just celebrated our fourth anniversary in October.
My second love is writing, and I recently began honing my craft by participating in the Voices of our Nation Fiction writing workshop at UC Berkeley in 2012, completing a Technical & Professional writing certificate at San Francisco State University this year, and planning to enter an MFA creative writing program in the near future."
Here are Nakia's answers to my questions. Thanks, Nakia!
What's the weirdest thing you've seen in a public library?
One day while walking through the Oakland Main library branch, I saw a couple doing some sort of gymnastics tumbling routine in the stacks near the computer lab on the first floor. One was on the floor on his back with his legs up balancing his partners while she did twists and turns with her body. Pretty cool but also alarming since it was in the library. People either stopped to stare or walked around them as if they weren't there. Very interesting.
Do you want to give a shout out to any particular library location or staff member?
I am a huge fan of Oakland Main because they ALWAYS have the books I want and they're the closest to my house; and the 81st Avenue Branch because it's the newest and nicest branch for studying; and AAMLO because I am an African American history geek; BUT I have to pay homage to the library that started it all for me: MLK Jr. branch.
As a child living in east Oakland in the early 1980s, my mother and I would ride our bikes four blocks up to the MLK Jr. Library on Saturday afternoons, where she'd encourage me to check out as many books as I could carry. There, I was introduced to James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and The Color Purple; participated in the Summer Reading program (and won tons of pizzas and A's game tickets); and began on my book lover's journey. It was my favorite place in the community, and inspired me to create my own little library during my elentary school years, where neighborhood kids could borrow my personal stash of Babysitters Club and Ramona books (complete with the old school "checked out" tab behind the front cover and return date stamp). The accessibility of the MLK branch is one of the reasons why I am such a "library girl" now, checking there first before I head to Amazon or Barners & Noble, and always encouraging others to utilize these public gems.
Tell us about your favorite book or movie.
My absolute favorite book is Sula by Toni Morrison. A story of two childhood friends, Nel and Sula experienced completely different upbringings but were raised in the same town, Medallian, Ohio. They gew closer than sisters, but when Sula leaves the town upon entering adulthood, and then returns as a brazen, seductive, no-nonsense taking outcast, their friendship is challenged and eventually severed by an indiscretion from which neither woman recovers. I love this short novel because of it's undertones about African American life post-Reconstruction, but also because Morrison writes about friendship so eloquently and leaves the reader with an intensely stunning ending that it literally broke my heart and cause me to re-evaluate and appreciate my own friendships with women. I try to read this book at least every two years.
What's the best event you ever attended at the library?
The best event was a writers workshop, "Do the Write Thing and Publish!", I attended in early October, featuring local authors, Denise Michelle Harris and Alicia Young. As an aspiring author, it was great to listen and learn from down to earth writers who have been there and done that when it comes to publishing. I also won a novel writing kit that will be most helpful during November, National Novel Writing Month.
If Oakland Public Library could do one thing we don't already do (your wish is our command), what would it be?
Sometimes I get a little carrier away and forget to turn in a book on time (shame on me, I know). I have no problem with paying my fines, but often forget to bring cash with me when I am returning them. I'd love to be able to pay my library fines online.
And (though this will surely never happen) if OPL could miraculously morph into Netflix and mail our held books to our homes, I'd be a very happy reader. lol
Where's your favorite non-library place to go in Oakland?
I absolutely love walking and running the lake during the spring, summer, and fall. It's a beautiful place which showcases Oakland diversity, and it's also a great way to burn off the delicious food truck treasures all over the area.
What's the most important thing the Oakland Public Library does?
It makes books, DVDs, computers, and other studying materials available to people who may otherwise never see them due to lack of money or other resources. It opens up a world of learning for those who want to grow...and it's all for free. This is why I call OPL a gem!
Anything else you'd like to add?
One of my favorite places within the OPL system is the 2nd floor of the Main branch. Photographs of old Oakland are there, gracing the walls. The first time I saw them, I was in awe. I love history, but especially local, relateable history. I'd encourage all Oakland natives to walk along the hallways and get a glimpse of a few of the people and civic and religious groups who helped build and shape our neighborhoods and culture in the early and mid 1990s.
Thanks so much, again, to Nakia for taking the time to share so much of herself with us! If you are interested in being interviewed for this blog, leave a comment and include your email address! We'd love to hear your voice too!