Miriam Medow, Children’s Librarian
Montclair Branch library, the exterior of which looks just like a storybook Swiss chalet, is a brief walking distance from the Montclair Village business district, two Oakland Unified elementary schools, and the Montclair Recreation Center. It’s a bustling branch, with a steady stream of visitors who check out A LOT of library materials. Montclair’s picture book circulation alone comprises a full 1% of Oakland Public Library’s check-outs (that’s over 20,000 annual circulations!), and patrons rely heavily on our reserve system for convenient access to the books they want and need.
All day long, families visit the library to find books and media that support their children’s academic needs and recreational interests. And every weekday afternoon, the branch is flooded with kids seeking a safe place to work on homework, use computers, socialize with friends, read for pleasure, and otherwise spend their after-school hours. Local teachers regularly use our collections to supplement their limited classroom libraries.
Class visits, craft programs, and exciting performances are all part of the landscape at Montclair. Nearly 800 kids participated in our Summer Reading program last year, and weekly toddler and preschool storytimes combined garner crowds of 100+ people. Early learning toys, puzzles, and pop-up books housed in the children’s room have further established the Montclair library as a desirable destination for our youngest visitors.
In the face of this current budget crisis, our patrons have repeatedly shared how important the Montclair library is to their family’s weekly routine, and to their quality of life. Earlier today, a teen volunteer commented to me, “They can’t close down this library. I’ve been coming here since I was 3 years old.” Montclair is a beloved neighborhood library that creates real community and inspires this kind of lifelong learning. Thousands of Oakland hearts would break – and just as many families would suffer – if it were to close.