I’m assuming that everyone who reads this blog is already aware of the proposed destruction of the Oakland Public Library system in Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s budget. Right? (You’d think I wouldn’t need to ask, but I continue to encounter people on a daily basis who don’t know anything about it.)
If you’re just tuning in, the proposal is basically to close 14 of OPL’s 18 locations entirely. The remaining four locations (the Main Library, Rockridge Branch, Dimond Branch, and the new 81st Avenue Branch) would be open for only limited hours, and only 2 or 3 days a week. There would be no more e-books, no more databases or other electronic resources, no more programming, no more storytime, no new materials purchases — you get the idea. Library Director Carmen Martinez summed it up at a Council budget hearing earlier this month like so:
Library services as we have provided and enjoyed them all these years would cease to exist.
I don’t want to live in a city that doesn’t have a library. I can’t imagine who would. And if you feel the same way, I strongly encourage you to check out Save Oakland Libraries, an organization that has formed to protest these cuts and remind the Council that libraries are a core service, and an essential part of quality of life in Oakland.
On their website, they have a toolkit offering flyers, petitions, fact sheets, and sample letters to help you raise awareness and support among your friends. With the Council’s budget vote fast approaching, it is really important to demonstrate as much support for the library as possible in the next few days. For regular updates, you can follow Save Oakland Library on Facebook and SaveOPL on Twitter.
One of the reasons I’ve been so delighted with the efforts of Save Oakland Libraries is that they’ve been doing a lot of really creative and fun events to raise awareness of the proposed cuts. Yes, they’ve turned out lots of people at Council meetings, like every other group that’s ever protested cuts to their favorite city service, but they’ve also done a lot of fun, non-Council meeting stuff, like a storytime in front of City Hall before the last Council meeting, a zombie crawl up Telegraph, and a funeral procession for the Oakland Public Library system (complete with coffin) during the Art Murmur a couple of weeks ago.
So today I wanted to highlight a couple more upcoming events in support of the library, both of which I think sound really fun.
Save Oakland Libraries Bike Ride
This coming Saturday, June 18th, there’s going to be a Save Oakland Libraries Bike Ride. They’re going to start downtown and ride through Oakland stopping at several of the branches slated for closure:
Meet at Frank Ogawa Plaza (steps of Oakland City Hall) at 10am. From there, we’ll head to (in order) AAMLO, Asian Branch, Cesar Chavez, Melrose, MLK, 81st Ave and end at the Elmhurst Branch grand re-opening party.
The route is approximately 10 miles: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/36150834.
The ride is designed to be a fun, family friendly event. We will stop near or at several BART stations for those who do not wish to ride the entire route. Folks can also choose to meet up at any of the above branches and join up with the larger ride as we pass by (think pied piper). For timing reasons, we won’t stop at each branch for very long – save the Cesar Chavez Branch and Elmhurst.
We encourage you to:
- Bring music! (Speaker bikes, boom boxes, etc.)
- Decorate yourselves and your bike!
- Please tell your friends, your family, and your co-workers to join us. The more people we have riding with us, the more powerful our statement will be: WE WILL NOT ACCEPT THE CLOSURE OF OUR LIBRARIES!
Here’s the map of the route:
Get more info and updates on the Facebook event page. Then, on Monday…
14 Hours, 14 Branches: A Read-In to Save Oakland Libraries
I think this is such a cool idea. Next Monday, June 20th, library supporters will be demonstrating their opposition to the proposed evisceration of the Oakland Public Library system by reading out loud continuously (in 15 minute shifts) in front of Oakland City Hall from 6am to 8pm — one hour for every branch the Mayor has proposed shutting down. More info, from the Facebook event page:
14 Hours, 14 Branches is a 14 hour read-in being held on Monday, June 20, to raise awareness that 14 of 18 Oakland’s branch libraries (including AAMLO and the Tool Lending Library) will be eliminated under the current budget Scenario A. City Council presents their budget recommendations on Tuesday, June 21, and we want to have our voices reading for an uninterrupted 14 hours the day before to send our message loud and clear: save ALL of Oakland’s public libraries.
People will read in 15 minute slots continuously from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm on Monday, June 20 in front of City Hall. We’re having children’s storytime (and possibly some other themes) but ultimately want people to be able to read anything that is meaningful to them. The spectrum of books read will reflect the depth and richness of resources available at all branches of the Oakland Public Library.
And they have a seriously impressive lineup! Plenty of library staff and devoted library patrons will be reading, as well as all these great local authors — Mac Barnett (Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, The Clock without a Face), Annie Barrows (Ivy + Bean, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), Shirin Yim Bridges (Ruby’s Wish, The Umbrella Queen), Jennifer Holm (Turtle in Paradise, Penny from Heaven), Kathryn Otoshi (Simon & the Sock Monster, What Emily Saw, One), Gennifer Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts, Louder, Lili), Harriet Rohmer (Heroes of the Environment), Lissa Rovetch (Hot Dog and Bob), Dashka Slater (The Wishing Box, The Sea Serpent and Me).
Plus Charlie Haas (The Enthusiast), Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation), Shailja Patel (Migritude). AND, most exciting for me, Frank Portman (of The Mr. T Experience fame, and author of King Dork, Andromeda Klein)!
And of course the blogoaksphere will be represented. dto510 is reading from 2:45 to 3:00 pm, and I’m scheduled for
6PM, immediately following Dr. Frank! 1:15 to 1:30pm. [Updated: I ceded my primetime spot to someone more famous. -V] I haven’t decided what I’m reading yet, so I’m open to suggestions in the comments. I was thinking maybe something from Thucydides? Following me Starting at 4 will be several hours of local writers and celebrities. [Updated: Including Ishmael Reed!]
Anyway, it’s totally worth checking out if you work downtown or live downtown or even pass through downtown on your way to or from work. If you have kids, consider bringing them down after work. There’s a lot of children’s authors on the list. Plus, it’s never too early to teach the virtues of civic engagement! I think the whole event is going to be super fun.
Here’s the Facebook event page for more information and updates.