Tag Archives: library

81st Avenue Library – a municipal success worth celebrating

31 Jan

This Saturday, along with hundreds of other Oaklanders, I went to the grand opening of the 81st Avenue library, a project of the Oakland Public Library and the Oakland Unified School District. I was at a meeting down the street beforehand so I missed most of the speeches, but it looked like everyone had spoken or at least was on stage – Congresswoman Barbara Lee, State Senator Ellen Corbett, Assemblymember Sandre Swanson, Mayor Jean Quan, and Councilmember Larry Reid. All of them were beaming, as it was a joyous event for everyone involved.

After the ribbon cutting, I got a chance to check out the library and snap some photos.

The building is very modern and has this lovely sign to welcome you in:

The library was packed with excited people:

But even with the crowds, there were still corners to sneak away to for some quiet that looked like perfect places to read:

And there was plenty to read, or listen to, or watch. It made me smile to see so many people get so excited about the library’s offerings of brand new books and DVDs. The displays were beautiful, inviting, and professional – much like you’d see at a bookstore:

The 81st Avenue Library goes beyond books though. There’s a community room upstairs, a story time area, and a giant computer lab housing 60 state of the art computers and monitors (if only all of our libraries had equipment like this!):

This library clearly has the basics covered, but it’s also just a beautiful building with modern decor. Some of my favorite touches were this wall of letters:

And the windows:

I hope these pictures will inspire you to head down to the library and check it out in person – I promise you won’t be disappointed. Lately, Oakland has been used to more bad municipal news than good so it’s important to celebrate successes when they do happen.

V Smoothe wrote about the opening last week so if you’d like some information about the library, check that out.

I hope I’m in better shape when I turn 60 than Oakland’s Main Library is

12 Jan

Yesterday, the Council had its first day of committee meetings, which is where most of the City’s policy decisions are made. I didn’t get a chance to watch the meetings, but one thing they should have discussed is the state of Oakland libraries, particularly the Main Library, which just celebrated it’s 60th anniversary.

I must admit that I don’t use our libraries frequently. I used to live in walking distance from the Rockridge branch, and I went there a few times (it’s a great space for meetings), but since library hours were cut, I never seem to be able to find time to go to libraries when they’re open. Last month I was downtown for Robert Raburn’s swearing in, and on my way to meet a friend I walked by the Main Library and thought I’d pop in. Of course, it was closed. I couldn’t understand – it was a Thursday at 11am and not a furlough day or a holiday. I looked it up later and found out that the Main Library doesn’t open until noon on Thursdays.

Sadly, the limited hours of the library are not the only problem. The Main Library seems to be falling into a state of disrepair lately. Though the Council managed to spare libraries from complete closures during the various rounds of budget cuts over the last two years, they must have cut funding sufficiently so that the library can’t make basic repairs.

As of Monday, here are some of the things that were broken at the Main Library:

  • Several of the public use internet computers were broken and of course the rest of the computers were booked for the day.
  • There was no ability to print from the public use computers.

  • One of the men’s restroom on the mezzanine was out of service.
  • The ADA women’s restroom downstairs was out of service due to an ant infestation!

  • The elevator was out of service. I have no idea what disabled people are supposed to do since it’s a four story building – maybe they have staff get books for them?

  • The main catalog search computer in the lobby is broken, and it was broken the last time I went into the Main Library a few months ago (not sure if it worked in the interim or not). It’s lovely to walk into the library and be greeted by an out of order sign.

The Council has been so proud about how they managed to balance the budget without closing libraries (even though the libraries are closed constantly), but if they don’t provide the facilities and IT support required to deliver services, what is the point of having all these libraries?

How can we expect people to use library services if it’s basically a crapshoot whether they’re going to be working on any given day? “Come use our computers and printing, but make sure you call first to see if they’re working this week.” It’s like if AC Transit had some bus that only runs half the times it is scheduled to – who is going to ride it?

Mayor Jean Quan and the Council must step up to fix this situation. I don’t know if the other branches are in such bad shape, but it’s totally unacceptable for our Main Library to be in this condition.

February 8-14 Oakland Political & Community Events

7 Feb

Wednesday, February 10th – Walking Tour: New Era/New Politics

If you missed Saturday’s walking tour, not to worry because it’s being held again this week (and on February 27th). Stroll through downtown and discover the places where Oakland African American leaders have made their mark. Learn how Lionel Wilson, Delilah Beasley, Robert Maynard, the Dellums family, Josephine Baker, and others changed the Bay Area and California. This free tour begins at 10:00 a.m. in front of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, 14th Street at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Visit Oakland’s walking tour site for more info.

Wednesday, February 10th – AC Transit Board Meeting (in person or via audio!)

As V Smoothe announced last month, starting this Wednesday, AC Transit will be audio-casting their Board meetings and standing committee meetings and will be posting archived audio of all meetings. I couldn’t be much more excited about this, as it means it will now be very convenient to keep up with AC Transit business. At this week’s meeting, the Board will be addressing the very important issue of what to do about service reductions if AC Transit is unable to transfer Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds from BRT to operations. They will also discuss a contract for on-board video surveillance and receive an update on BRT. This meeting will take place at 6pm in the 2nd floor board room, 1600 Franklin Street. You can read the agenda and see the relevant memos here and you can listen online here.

Thursday, February 11th – Mix It Up East Bay

Join us for a monthly happy hour bringing together young activists, organizers and leaders in the East Bay. ‘Tis STILL the Season for Giving! The holiday season is over but issues of hunger are still dire. Come hear (brief) presentations on eradicating hunger in the East Bay:

  • Betsy Edwards, Alameda County Food Bank
  • Lisa Sherrill, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano
  • Eric Manke, CA Association of Food Banks

Mix It Up East Bay is held every 2nd Thursday of the month from 6-9pm at Shashamane at 2507 Broadway. It’s accessible by 19th Street BART station or by AC Transit lines 1/1R, 51, 59.

Thursday, February 11th – Oakland Heritage Alliance Lecture: The New Deal and its Impact on the East Bay

As part of the monthly OHA lecture series, popular lecturer Gray Brechin will once again highlight the New Deal’s cultural and historical contributions to the East bay landscape. This lecture will be held at 7:30pm at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. Admission: $10 OHA members/$15 non-members. Find out more about this lecture series at OHA’s website.

Friday, February 12th – Estuary Art Attack

First Fridays are not the only day of the month to check out art galleries. Jingle Town and Alameda artists have joined together to start the Estuary Art Attack, a monthly event held on second Fridays to showcase the area’s galleries, restaurants, and bars. The Art Attack will be held from 6-9 pm throughout Jingle Town and Alameda. Check out their website for more details.

Saturday, February 13th – Inside Buffalo Screening

The African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) will screen Inside Buffalo, an award winning feature film documentary about the Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division, the all-African American segregated combat unit that fought with outstanding heroism in Italy during the Second World War. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Fred Kuwornu. Writer Tullio Bertini, author of Trapped in Tuscany: Liberated by the Buffalo Soldiers, and 92nd Infantry Division veteran Ivan Houston, author of Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II, are also scheduled to appear and sign copies of their books. The screening will take place at 1:15pm at AAMLO, 659 14th St. Find out more at AAMLO’s website.

Sunday, February 14th – Valentine’s Day

Love it or hate it, there’s tons to do on Oakland on Valentine’s Day. If someone doesn’t beat met to it, I’ll post a round-up of events later this week. If someone does beat me, I’ll post the link to it here. So check back later in the week if you’re looking for something to do.

January 18-24 Oakland Political & Community Events

17 Jan

Monday, January 18th – Candlelight Vigil for Haiti Earthquake Victims

Congresswoman Barbara Lee in collaboration with the Haiti Action Committee will hold a candlelight vigil for Haiti earthquake victims. The vigil will be held, rain or shine, from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm in the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building Courtyard, 1301 Clay Street. Please bring a candle.

Monday, January 18th – Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations

There are several MLK Day celebrations happening throughout the city, too many to possibly list here. From service projects to concerts, there’s something for everyone. See Jean Quan’s thorough listing of MLK day events.

Tuesday, January 19th – Oakland City Council Meeting

It looks like it’s going to be another long and contentious Council meeting this weekend. Even the consent calendar has a contentious item about free parking for city employees, which several advocates plan to speak out against.  Then, Mayor Dellums, for the first time, will break a Council tie and appoint Michael Lighty to the Port Commission. Another mayoral appointment, to the Paramount Theater Board, will also be debated, as one of the proposed appointees, Lorenzo Hoopes, was a big donor and supporter of Prop 8. If the Council can make it past all of that, they’ll also be discussing a hiring freeze, appointing a Vice Mayor, the 2010 federal legislative agenda, a Measure Y report, and more. See the full meeting agenda and check out my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 7pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Wednesday, January 20th – Keep Barack Rollin’ Inauguration Anniversary Party

Last year’s Barack n’ Roll inaugural ball was such a success that East Bay Young Democrats decided to celebrate, again. Come join EBYD and our friends at Organizing For America to enjoy the beats of DJ Sake1 as we celebrate the one year since change happened– and what is still to come. $5-25 sliding scale, suggested donation; no one will be turned away for lack of funds. The party will take place from 7-10pm at Paradiso Lounge, 2272 Telegraph Avenue. Visit the Facebook event page for more info, to RSVP, and for public transit directions.

Wednesday, January 20th – Central Estuary Plan at Planning Commission

After months and months of public planning meetings, the Central Estuary Plan is making its way to the planning commission this week. It first went to the planning commission in December, but the commission asked for more information on economic assumptions and analysis to be brought back. The planning commission meeting will be held at 6pm in Hearing Room One, Oakland City Hall, One Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. For more information, read the staff report on this item.

Thursday, January 21st – Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. This month’s agenda looks very exciting, including discussions of stops for the new downtown shuttle, Bike to Work Day, and the Alta Bates/Summit Hospital EIR. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-7:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Thursday, January 21st – Oakland Food Policy Council Meeting

The mission of the Oakland Food Policy Council (OFPC) is to establish an equitable and sustainable food system in Oakland, California. At OFPC’s first meeting of the year, they will set their course for the rest of the year. Each work gropu will give reports, there will be a discussion of the strategic planning process, and a guest presentation will be given on youth engagement. The meeting will be held from 5:00 – 7:30 pm at 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 4th Floor, Conference Room 1. Find out more about OFPC at their website and see the agenda here.

Thursday, January 21st – East Oakland Neighborhood BRT Meeting

Oakland is preparing its recommendation for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system running through the heart of the East Bay from San Leandro through Oakland to Berkeley. Throughout the month of January the city will be seeking the input of Oakland residents on what they want to see from the Bus Rapid Transit program and how they want this new service to run through their communities. This process will culminate in the submittal of Oakland’s Locally Preferred Alternative to AC Transit to be included in the range of options they consider when they build the BRT system. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Oakland’s plan at December’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting, and it’s pretty astounding, especially the significant pedestrian improvements. Tuesday’’s meeting is part of a series of seven meetings throughout Oakland, and I highly recommend attending at least one to see the plan for yourself and to ask questions.This meeting will be held from 6-8 PM at the East Oakland Youth Development Center, 8200 International Blvd. You can read more about the BRT proposal at dto510’s excellent post about this issue and at OaklandBRT.com.

Friday, January 22nd – State Controller John Chiang at Alameda County Budget Workgroup

State Controller John Chiang will be at the Alameda County Budget Workgroup meeting to discuss the state budget. The meeting will be held at 2:00 PM at the Alameda County Conference Center, 125 – 12th Street, 4th Floor. For more information, email caobudgetrsvp@acgov.org.

Sunday, January 24th – “Silence Please” at the Oakland Main Library

Via the library newsletter: “On Sunday, January 24, from 1 to 4 p.m., visitors to the Oakland History Room will be treated to an unusual art installation, called “Silence, Please.” And, no, it does not involve a shushing librarian. The Oakland History Room is on the 2nd floor of the Main Library, at 125 14th St. “Silence, Please” is a site-specific installation created by Chris Kubick for the Oakland Public Library. Drawing from time spent in locations around the city, Kubick has created a catalog of the names of “sounds which border on silence” – empty or unnoticed sounds which are often ignored or mistaken for silence. This catalog, written out on transparencies, attempts to represent peace, tranquility, and emptiness, but is inevitably a record of the disturbances and fantasies that interrupt the notion of silence. Visitors will be able to view and manipulate layers of these transparent silences on an array of light boxes in the Oakland History Room.”

October 12-18 Oakland Political & Community Events

11 Oct

Tuesday, October 13th – Final Vote on EBMUD Water Supply Management Plan 2040

Via EBMUD Director Andy Katz: “The EBMUD Board of Directors will consider adopting the Water Supply Management Plan 2040 to meet our water needs over the next 30 years on Tuesday afternoon, October 13.  While the Plan includes increased water conservation programs, recycled water projects, rationing during worst-case droughts, securing water transfers and groundwater storage, it also includes desalination, and expanding Pardee reservoir with a new dam. The proposal to expand Pardee Reservior would flood 1200 acres, including nearly three miles of riparian and scenic stretch of the Mokelumne River that is used for whitewater recreation and fishing.  I support managing our water supply relying on groundwater storage, recycled water, rationing at 15% in severe worst-case droughts, and increased investment in conservation programs to avoid the environmental impacts of a new dam that would destroy our natural resources. Public involvement is essential to achieving an environmentally responsible water plan that reflects the values of our community.” The Board of Directors meeting will be held at 1:15pm on the 2nd floor of 375 11th St., Oakland. For additional info, visit EBMUD’s website.

POSTPONED – Tuesday, October 13th 20th – Taste of Temescal

This event has been postponed until next week due to expected heavy rain and wind.

Twenty-one of Temescal’s best restaurants are offering a taste from their menus. Visit Dona Tomas, Pizzaiolo, Barlata, Burma Superstar, Mixing Bowl, Bakesale Betty, Lanesplitters and many more all while supporting Good Cents for Oakland, Emerson Elementary School, Claremont Middle School and Women’s Cancer Resource Center. Tickets are $25 for adults and children 12 and over. The event will be held from 6-8:30pm on Telegraph between 40th and 51st Streets. For details and tickets, visit the Temescal District website.

Wednesday, October 14th – AC Transit Board Meeting on Service Cuts & BRT Funding Swap

Ugh, I really wish i could make it to this meeting because it’s incredibly important. The AC Transit Board will be discussing the delay of service cuts and will be receiving an update on discussions with MTC regarding potential the shift of capital BRT funds to operating funds. If you haven’t been following this issue, check out V Smoothe’s two thorough posts about it. The Board will also be voting on a resolution to buy American (I’m sure this will make Joyce Roy and the rest of the Van Hool haters happy) and a resolution approving a collective bargaining agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union 192. This meeting will take place at 6pm in the 2nd floor board room, 1600 Franklin Street. You can read the agenda and see the relevant memos here. If you plan to attend and would like to write a guest post about the meeting, please contact me at oaklandbecks at gmail dot com.Wednesday, October 14th – East Bay Democracy for America Meetup

At their October meeting, Democracy for America will be focusing on water issues and update the group on the public option. From DFA: “Get an update on the status of the Delta’s water. While an effort to hand control over Governor Schwarzenegger and his cronies was thwarted, there is still a possibility of it happening while broader issues regarding the water in the state of California could be impacted during the on going budget crisis. Assemblyperson Nancy Skinner, chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, will talk about how she views water resources in California and what role her committee should play in making decisions about those resources. We’ll also hear about EBMUD’s efforts to meet our water needs in increasingly dry years. There are dam issues, water allocations and conservation measures that face EBMUD this year.” The meeting will be held at 6:30 at the Rockridge Library, 5366 College Avenue. RSVP here.

Thursday, October 15th – Women of the Black Panther Party and Beyond

The Main Library will put on a one-day exhibit, Women of the Black Panther Party and Beyond. This exhibit will celebrate the women of the Black Panther Party with photos, art and a short film honoring their service to the community, leadership, and vision. Hear the experiences of women fighting to uplift the community. The exhibit will be up from 2 to 8 pm, with the program starting at 5:30 pm. The Main Library is at 125 14th St. The event will take place downstairs in the West Auditorium.

Thursday, October 15th – Oakland Sierra Club Mixer & Activist Social Event

Join local members of the Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda County (NAC) Group for a fun evening in the Fruitvale transit center. They will be socializing and introducing some of our priority campaigns. Connect with other folks in the environmental community, including CBE, Transform, and other organizations. Find out how you can get active in your community! The event will be held from 6:30-8:30 at Mar Y Tierra Restaurant at the Fruitvale Village, 3411 E. 12th St. (ground floor). Directions: Take BART to Fruitvale station, exit and walk into the Transit Village. The restaurant should be on your left (downtown Oakland side). Look for signs. Contact: Kent Lewandowski, (510) 625-5831, or kentlewan [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Thursday, October 15th – Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. This month’s agenda covers updated criteria for prioritizing stair and pathway remediation, the 38th & 40th Street bikeways, and new bicycle parking rack guidelines. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-7:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Friday, October 16th – Pacific Coast Brewery 21st Anniversary Block Party

Celebrate Pacific Coast Brewery’s 21st anniversary with beer and music in the street. This event takes place from 5-11pm on Washington Street between 9th and 10th in Old Oakland. Find out more info at Pacific Coast Brewery’s website.

Saturday, October 17 – Oakland Kidical Mass

Walk Oakland Bike Oakland invites you to participate in a social ride for anyone interested in a kid-friendly, mellow bike ride, where you’ll get to know others who move their families around Oakland by bike. Children under 18 should be accompanied by an adult to participate. Ride meets at Frog Park (Hardy St. & Claremont Ave) from 10-10:30am with expected departure about 10:45am. Destination is Lake Shore Park. Ride is about 3 miles – expect a leisurely pace and relaxed atmosphere.

Saturday, October 17th – Linden Street Brewery Brats & Beer

Via Oaklandish: “Join us at Linden Street Brewery for a great party that benefits the Rotary Club of Oakland and Bay Area Community Services (B.A.C.S.) Come through to eat and drink for a cause! This event is Saturday, October 17th, 12:00-5:00pm at Linden St. Brewery (#8 Linden St. @ 3rd St.). There is no cover charge, and this is a family-friendly event. There will be a free shuttle from West Oakland BART and valet bicycle parking.” For more information, visit Linden Street’s website.

Saturday, October 17th – The Black Panther Film Fest

The West Oakland Branch of the library and It’s about Time presents the Black Panther Film Fest. Three films will be screened: Legacy of Torture: The War Against The Black Liberation Movement; Merritt College: Home of the Black Panthers; and Lord of the Revolution. Films screen from 1 to 5 pm at the West Oakland Branch, 1801 Adeline Street.

Saturday, October 17th – Reflect. Honor. Prepare – Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake

Via Jean Quan’s newsletter: “Our office will be joining many other organizations at an emergency preparedness fair and commemoration of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989. Free raffle for 100 earthquake preparedness kits. Free blood pressure checks. Remembrance ceremony at 5:04 pm honoring those who lost their lives in the collapse of the Cypress Freeway during the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989.” This event will be held from 3-5:30 pm at Cypress Freeway Memorial Park, Mandela Parkway at 14th Street.

Sunday, October 18th – Reviving Oakland’s Main Street: Greenbelt Alliance and Sierra Club Urban Walk

Stroll along Broadway with members of Greenbelt Alliance and the Northern Alameda County Group of the Sierra Club. They’ll look at the area along Broadway St. between 23rd Street and I-580. The city hopes to attract more retail here, creating a thriving new shopping district for Oakland residents and others. During the event, they’ll discuss the opportunities and constraints in welcoming sustainable development to the area, share news about the Project Alternatives, and provide ways to get involved. The walk will take place from 1-3pm – meet at 27th & Broadway, near the First Presbyterian Church (meet in front of the church). Contact: Joanna Winchester, (202) 725-6513, or joannawinchester [at] gmail [dot] com.