Recognition of Friends
and Volunteers

Support from members of
the public – who generously contribute their time, skills, and money – continually grows at the Oakland Public Library.


In 2012–13, FOPL donated over $140,000 to the Library for free community programs, branch projects, funding for collections, and more.

One key source of revenue for the Library comes from the Bookmark Bookstore, in Old Oakland. Operated by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library (FOPL), the Bookmark celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012. Two decades of selling gently used books to raise funds for OPL, and hopefully many more decades to come! Congratulations – and many thanks – to the Bookmark!

Each year thousands of books are donated to the Bookmark and over 850 individuals support the Library by joining FOPL. Fifty active volunteers help run the store, which grows especially busy during special sale events.

Local friends groups provided similar support at 14 branches and the Oakland History Room by conducting book sales, performing community outreach, and presenting events such as the Summer Jazz Series at the Golden Gate branch, Martha Reeves’ appearance at AAMLO, and the Piedmont Avenue Halloween Parade (in which books were hauled in wheel barrows to the branch’s new home) were all made possible by branch-based friends groups.

For a large organization with 18 locations, finding volunteers for the increasing number of volunteer opportunities, and matching the right person with suitable tasks, is not logistically simple. The Library addressed such challenges by hiring a part-time Volunteer Coordinator to oversee these efforts and expand the volunteer base.

Thanks in part to volunteer information sessions conducted in September 2012 and March 2013, the Library gained nearly 100 new volunteers in 2012–13. In June, OPL also co-hosted a regional meeting for library volunteer managers, as part of the State Library’s Get Involved! Initiative.

New volunteer opportunities that have presented themselves include the Seed Library coordinator at the César E. Chávez Branch, Adopt-a-Spot volunteers at the Main Library, Summer Lunch site coordinators at various locations, and Farmers Market outreach representatives.

Some volunteers contributed by sharing specialized skills or knowledge with participants in Library programs. Every week, members of the Alameda County Bar Association volunteer their time to offer legal advice and referrals, and every spring volunteers from AARP Foundation help patrons file their taxes at several library locations. For Ready, Set, Connect!, a new program introduced in early 2013, tech professionals from Google and Bluewolf volunteered to provide work site visits and to give career-related advice.

Also in early 2013, the Main Library identified a book sorting area that needed a redesign. Working with library staff, Kate Moll volunteered her design skills and created plans to make the space more efficient and safer. Volunteer Sophie Dosick helped to complete the expanded design.

The Books for Wider Horizons (BWH) program is going strong after nearly two decades and enjoyed another very productive year, with 61 volunteers offering over 2,200 storytimes at 33 outreach sites throughout the city of Oakland. Some 1,300 children benefitted. In October and November, the BWH training sessions, coordinated by Celia Jackson and Mary Gay Ducey, prepared 20 new volunteer story-readers, who have since been placed with Head Start and Child Development Centers throughout Oakland. Meanwhile, more than 110 volunteer tutors in the Second Start Adult Literacy Program worked one-on-one with adult learners.

Books for Wider Horizons volunteers and OPL Children’s Services staff