Events, and Exhibits
The urban farming movement has taken root in Oakland and the Library has responded with relevant programming such as the Seed Lending Library at the César E. Chávez Branch, which launched in early 2012. The Seed Library and its related workshops have generated tremendous interest amongst Oaklanders saving and sharing seeds from their gardens, and now similar seed exchange programs are slated to open at other branches.
Of course, urban farming isn’t strictly about agriculture. Library patrons interested in raising chickens showed up at the Main Library in January to meet Matthew Wolpe and Kevin McElroy, authors of Reinventing the Chicken Coop. If you have noticed simple but stylish hen houses popping up in your neighborhood, perhaps their plans were hatched at this event.
In the summer, cookbook author Jennie Schacht gave talks at the Montclair and Dimond branches, where she demonstrated creative ideas from her latest publication,
I Scream Sandwich! Highly appreciative library patrons enjoyed delicious samples.
OPL had the opportunity to participate in a variety of technology-related programs during the 2012–13 fiscal year. The Library contributed data to the city’s open data platform, and Library staff participated in events including CityCamp Oakland and the Oakland Answers Write-a-Thon. In February, OPL was pleased to host the city’s International Open Data Hackathon at the 81st Avenue Branch, bringing together active, technologically savvy community members to work towards creating new and useful applications using open city data.
The Civil Rights Era was much on our minds in early 2013. As part of the build-up to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Gary Younge, a columnist for The Guardian (U.K.), regaled a capacity audience at the Main Library with stories about the planning of the March on Washington and the global impact of one of America’s most famous speeches.
Book lovers have come to count on the Library for engaging author talks, poetry readings, and literary discussions. In September 2012, the Main Library continued a tradition of presenting panels of mystery writers when it hosted Janet Dawson, Ann Parker, and Jonnie Jacobs for an intriguing event titled “Mysterious Women.” In December, the Rockridge Branch once again hosted the PEN Oakland awards – which The New York Times has dubbed the “Blue Collar PEN,” in an appreciative nod towards Oakland’s lack of ivory-tower snootiness.
Every year the Library addresses a bevy of self-help and personal improvement issues by offering programing such as Nancy Rhoda’s well attended Job On! classes, tenants’ rights seminars, and Elizabeth Anderson’s “Introduction to Mindfulness” workshops.
Local history, always the topic of the day in the Main Library’s beloved Oakland History Room, made its way into the discussion at the branches as well. In November, local historian Dennis Evanosky gave a talk at Temescal Branch entitled “Oakland in the Civil War,” in which he described how the nation’s worst inner conflict deeply affected our then remote and fledgling town.
Dennis EvanoskyEvery year the Library addresses a bevy of self-help and personal improvement issues by offering programing such as Nancy Rhoda’s well attended Job On! classes, tenants’ rights seminars, and Elizabeth Anderson’s “Introduction to Mindfulness” workshops.
“Do-it-yourselfers” always rely on the Temescal Tool Lending Library for weed whackers, floor sanders, and other tools, but every now and then what you need is not a tool but a little guidance on how to get an old appliance in working order. For just such a crisis, the Tool Lending Library stepped up in June with a Summer Fix-It Clinic.
In August, the Dave Rocha Jazz Group performed at the Melrose Branch. The Friends of the Golden Gate Library staged their ever-popular Summer Jazz Series at the branch. Motown legend Martha Reeves came to AAMLO in March – you may know her for “Dancing in the Street” but some of us will always remember her for raising the excitement level in the Library.
David Johnson's Visit
In June, the Main Library hosted photographer David Johnson and his biographer, Jacqueline Annette Sue, for a discussion of A Dream Begun So Long Ago. The book is a beautiful, large-format collection of Johnson’s black and white images of the Civil Rights Movement as well as everyday scenes from San Francisco’s bustling Fillmore District in the 1940s and ’50s. Johnson, who was Ansel Adams’ first African American student, is in his 80s now, and clearly enjoying the renewed interest in his work.
Find out more at the David Johnson portfolio website
The Waters of Oakland
A highlight of the Oakland History Room’s steady stream of offerings was a thoughtful exhibit, “The Waters of Oakland.” The exhibit gave a detailed overview of how the city’s network of streams and Lake Merritt’s shifting shores originally looked, before they were tamed and concealed by concrete and culverts. The exhibit dovetailed nicely with the completion of the Measure DD–funded 12th Street Reconstruction Project, which brought about dramatic improvements to Lake Merritt’s south shore and the estuary feeding into it.