Make sure that city officials know what libraries mean to you, your family and your community. Personal stories are best, and we’re asking you to share yours as a comment below. We’ll share your stories with our city officials…and the World.
I attended last week’s City Council meeting and saw firsthand the anger and outrage of Oakland citizens. The pro-library crowd was joined by union members and others also battling to preserve their rights and benefits as taxpayers and workers.
The local and state budgets are a depressing reality.
To even consider taking away the public libraries is just crazy. Everyone has a reason to keep these vital institutions open and thriving.
But unless more people step up and make noise for the libraries (or someone with deep pockets drops a bag of money at the City’s door) the future looks less bright than the present.
A library is a home. In a library, you can always find someone to give you what you need, whether that’s support, a good argument, escape, or just comfort.
I was a kid who regularly had dozens of Oakland library books stacked around her bedroom. Those books shaped my childhood and my life. Now, as a teacher in the OUSD, I see my own students’ important interactions with their libraries. Some, like me, love to read, and have found librarians who push them to explore exciting new authors. Others love to play games, work on the computers, and hang out with friends in the TeenZone at the Main Library downtown. The libraries provide security, friendship, warmth (metaphorically and literally), knowledge, and a powerful message that our city values the minds of its residents.
If we close our libraries, we deprive ourselves as a community. We eliminate important refuges for students, we remove a cornerstone of early literacy for young children, and we abandon support for a lifelong love of learning. Please, Oakland, do right by your people: Keep our libraries open.
The following letter of concern was sent to every member of Oakland City Council on June 28th, 2011.
I’m a resident of Oakland and a public high school english teacher, and am writing to tell you that it is incredibly important to save our public libraries! The libraries are vital places many of our young people go to get credible information on everything they do not have access to at home or in their schools (and the disparity in public schools is growing as more and more is cut due to public ed budget shortfalls from the last couple of years). My students (especially the low income ones) rely heavily on public libraries to use working computers with internet, ask librarians for help to research, to finish assignments, submit their work electronically, you name it… Librarians and libraries are what saves so many of our students who would otherwise slip through the cracks. Additionally, many teachers I know rely on the libraries being open to help their students (literally bringing their students to the library after school or meeting them there on the weekends to work with them because their school libraries have been so drastically cut). Teachers rely on the public libraries to fill their in-class libraries with library books. And much of the teaching that I do in terms of how to research relies heavily on the search engines my students and I can access for free only through aclibrary.org. Guess who showed me how to access and teach this to my teens? Yes, a librarian.
It takes a whole community to support our kids. And we need to take ownership where we have the power to make that difference. I know I want to help create a better community where more kids are empowered and educated than are not – and I assume you do too. Please show it by voting to allocate the $9 million to it! I understand there is an additional $14 million from a parcel tax through Measure Q that will help support it. Also, the police and firemen really need to start paying into their pensions too. When many of the other public servants have had to take pay cuts and caseload/class size increases over the past few years to balance public budgets (not to mention we have hideous pensions when compared to police and firefighters), it is ridiculous that they haven’t shared in that. I just heard that 72% of the city’s budget is spent on Police and Fire Departments. That is absurdly high! We need to allocate money to proactively provide for our community! If we do not, we will surely pay even more in the end. I’ve read that the biggest thing prisoners have in common is a very poor educational background. Libraries (and the plentiful resources they offer besides books) are one of the few remaining free resources that build education and empowerment in which low income residents still have access. It is up to you to preserve this. Please do the right thing and vote to allocate money to keep the libraries open. It is so badly needed in Oakland right now!
My son and I attend our local library (the Dimond branch) almost every week to check out new children’s books that we read together. From what I have read on the saveoaklandlibrary.org site, our branch will be one of only four left if the proposed “A Scenario” happens and will be reduced to being open only 3 days a week. Once this happens our library will become increasingly overcrowded and books will become less available as we have to cope with the traffic that will be redirected our way from the closure of the other 14 branches.
I am trying to foster a love of reading and learning in my son, but to do that I need the resources of my local library which provides me and him with an endless supply of books. If multiple branches close, it will make it so much more difficult for not only my son, but other children in Oakland to have access to these valuable tools. I am one of the few people who probably uses the library the least, there are many others who depend on it for internet use, study space, and research material.
Libraries are for many children one of the only places where they can access such an infinite amount of knowledge. Lets not take this away from the generations to come.
I am a 47-year-old, life-long resident of Oakland and I am heartbroken about the possibility of library closures in Oakland. My family has been in Oakland for nearly 100 years and I have tremendous love and hope for this city. I grew up in a family where higher education was not a reality or even imagined and the libraries were my absolute salvation. I eventually attended and graduated from Mills College with an English degree in my late 30s. I am absolutely certain that I would never have gone to college without the love of learning that was nurtured for me in my early library explorations. Every Saturday, from the time I was 7 years old, I walked to either the Laurel (now gone) or the Dimond branch library with my paper grocery sack. I would check out about 40-50 books and read up to 6 books a day. When I read all of the childrens’ books that I was interested in at the two branch libraries, my mother put me on the bus to go downtown to the main library where I would spend hours in the beloved Childrens’ Room. My own children are 9, 6 and 4 and we go to the libraries (many different branches as they all have something different to offer) almost weekly and check out up to 120 books at a time (3 cards x 40 book limit.) Whenever we go to any branch, the library is packed full of patrons. This is the best of Oakland; children, families, immigrants, young and old, black and white, Asian and Hispanic, job-seekers, computer-users–everyone together enjoying all of the gifts the library has to offer. The fabulous librarians, library workers and volunteers, who keep it all flowing smoothly, are to be highly commended. Their loss will be profoundly felt. There is no way, with such extreme cuts, that we could hope to have anything like the remarkable library system we have now. It is nearly impossible for me to imagine “my Oakland” without the hope and beauty and the deep joy and satisfaction the libraries hold for all of us. I simply cannot contemplate how to tell my children that the libraries might be closing and that the few remaining libraries will only be available on an extremely limited basis.
I am also devastated by the potential loss of the invaluable Oakland History Room. This is an irreplaceable resource that must be available for all Oakland residents to learn about the impressive and fascinating history of our amazing city.
I urge all who have the power to make the right decision not to close or limit any of Oakland’s priceless library resources.
I am writing as an Educator whose lived and worked all over the East Bay. I’ve been to Libraries all over the country, and proudly call Oakland my adopted home. Oakland’s libraries have served me as a classroom teacher, social worker, literacy tutor, and citizen for twenty years.
In 1997, I started working in an Oakland public school. Coming to the community as an immigrant, I wanted to learn about the City’s history and share this sense of local pride with the school kids.
The beautiful Oakland History Room atop the Main Library was a treasure trove of photos, memorabilia, maps and ‘realia’ —that is, all the things that make history leap off the pages of a book or a bulletin board and make history alive.
Look there, it says, here’s a picture of our street from 75 years ago. Here’s a map of our neighborhood that shows what the land looked like before buildings. And you can go to the library there and look up when your family first got here.
With information and help from the history room staff, I created an eye-catching presentation to celebrate that Black History Month at school. Not every kid likes to read, but they do get pictures —which we know are worth a thousand words.
Go to any of these 14 branches slated to close, and you will see kids after school. Take those branches away, and then where will those kids go, and what will they do when their learning resources are closed down?
“Expect Success” is our motto at Oakland Unified, and we’re proud to call ourselves “Most improved urban school district” for the last six years. Are we to reverse this trend? One thing I have learned from working in schools is that kids are hungry to learn and they will find a ways to engage their learning styles despite whatever limitations. They find places to ‘hang-out.’ Leave only 4 libraries open for only 3 days a week for the whole city and you are creating more opportunities for the wrong kind of learning.
Books are but one way of learning offered in libraries, and school kids are but one segment of the community. Libraries have also provided me with resources while tutoring ESL to war refugees and youth with disabilities.
Libraries are more than bookshelves; they are community centers that provide citizens with learning resources of many kinds for diverse learning styles. They keep our history accessible. They are public meeting places where anyone can get government information. In their absence we can expect to see more mischief, illiteracy, and sense of lost pride (not to mention further strain on civic infra-structure). Keep Oakland beautiful, diverse, and vibrant —keep our libraries open!
We moved to Oakland about 5 years ago. And before that I had never really gone to the public library much. Then my Mom took my brother and me to the Peidmont Branch library and I’ve been hooked ever since. I go almost every other day. I live in walking distance from Main, Rockridge, and Peidmont libraries. I love the library so much that my family calls me a ” Library Addict.” So the idea of closing 14 libraries is crazy to me. Because someday I want to walk my kids to the Peidmont library and get them their first library card. How can that happen if it’s closed?
Since I was a child, the library has been an important part of my life. My earliest memories are of my mother taking me there to check out books, of summer trips with my grandmother to the library, and of hours and hours spent reading, listening to music, and perusing the stacks.
We need the libraries, they are not an optional part of life in a democratic society. How else can we make sure that everyone has access to information, rich or poor? People with fewer resources will be hardest hit by this–think about kids in West Oakland, seniors who can’t get to a main branch but can make it to their satellite library. It absolutely sickens me that our libraries may be taken away, and I really hope that this proposal is not serious.
My 2 year old son and I go to the library every week. He loves returning books in the slot, checking out new books to bring home, and participating in story time with other children. We sing the songs we learn at story time all week long and he’s always eager to come back for the next library visit. We are very thankful for the library and can’t imagine being without it.
What happens when you take away easy access to quality education and information? You get an uninformed population that is easy to manipulate, prone to crime with diminished earning power.
That said, I spent my teenage years in Colorado. In my small town, the library was open 6 days a week, most days from 10 am to 8 pm. Cutting library hours would have been unthinkable. I even worked at my library as a teenager. It was a haven for those who wanted to read and learn.
I visit my local Piedmont branch sometimes twice a week for books, DVD’s, music and magazines. I see my neighbors and friends there, children and old people, every possible demographic. If this went away, my community would suffer, as would I.
Why is it that in this city that needs it most, plagued by crime, unemployment (17 percent) and astronomical high school dropout rates (40 percent) , the city is thinking of CUTTING library hours, not INCREASING them? This is just wrongheaded and insane. Hungry minds need food that libraries can provide.
It’s plain ridiculous that in a city with such high crime rates- libraries would be shuttered. I use our libraries all the time, mainly the Cesar Chavez, Dimond, and Main branches. As a teacher, I often get books to read to my students (ps. most schools don’t have libraries anymore! Remember? The libraries and librarians were the first to go?). I also love walking to the library with my daughter- getting books for myself and books for us to read together. However, the biggest tragedy wouldn’t be that I’d personally lose this beloved and valuable community resource, but I know closing our libraries will have a dramatic (negative) impact on our city.
I teach in East Oakland. I encourage many of our students to get outside and play. So often I hear the refrain, “It’s not safe.” And they’re right. We’ve had several lock downs at our school this year because of mid-day drive-by shootings on the corner. Our kids (and adults!!) need somewhere safe to be, to learn, to explore, outside of their homes and classrooms. Many parks are deteriorating and unsafe. Where will my students get books? Where will adults go for literacy support? Where will families discover the love of literacy together?
It is hard to believe that our libraries could close. I know that our crime rates would go even higher. More kids would enter gangs. Our adult illiteracy rate would climb. And I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic. Giving access to books and literacy resources ensures a better future for the members of our community- have we lost sight of that plain truth?
This may just be a political stunt to get folks riled up- I really hope so.
The following letter of concern was sent by the California Library Association to Mayor Jean Quan and every member of Oakland City Council on June 3, 2011. It is also posted online here: http://www.cla-net.org
June 3, 2011
Honorable Mayor Jean Quan
City of Oakland
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 3rd Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
Dear Mayor Quan,
California Library Association has been closely following the news of the current budget crisis in Oakland. Your Fiscal Year 2011-13 Budget Scenario A, the “all cuts budget,” is now beginning to gain national attention for its proposal to slash general fund support for Oakland’s library system from $9.1 million in FY11 to $3.6 million in FY12. That cut in and of itself is a devastating reduction to an essential public service that Oakland residents have turned to in record numbers during the economic downturn, however Scenario A is particularly staggering in that it would trigger the forfeiture of an additional $14 million in Measure Q funding for library services, essentially cratering Oakland’s neighborhood libraries.
In these challenging economic times, local governments across California are facing unprecedented structural budget deficits. In this unique moment in our state’s history, at the height of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, local government leaders are faced with some of the most difficult choices they will ever have to make about the services they can provide to their constituents. And many of the decisions that those leaders make today will determine the quality of life for their constituents for years, even generations to come. It is landmark decisions such as those being faced today for which many local government leaders will be remembered.
In 2004, Oakland voters overwhelmingly approved at 77.1% the Measure Q parcel tax specifically to provide for library services in the Oakland community. Measure Q generates nearly $14 million for Oakland’s libraries annually. In order for Measure Q funds to be released, the city must contribute a minimum of $9.1 million from the general fund, but Scenario A would forfeit Measure Q funds by contributing only $3.6 million for FY12 and $3.7 million for FY13.
In other words, in order to save $6 million, which is less than 2% of the overall general fund budget, the city of Oakland stands to lose an additional $14 million in voter-authorized parcel tax revenue from Measure Q, and will all but destroy Oakland’s public library system, which the vast majority of Oakland voters supported when they approved Measure Q. In these difficult economic times, some cuts are understandable. Scenario A is not.
Scenario A would result in the closure of 14 out of 18 library branches citywide. The remaining four branches would be open only three days per week. Oakland is a city of nearly 400,000 people, with a large low-income population, and many challenges in its school system and for its youth in particular. The Scenario A budget would result in near-total devastation of a popular public library system in one of California’s largest and greatest cities, a loss from which the community of Oakland may never fully recover, and one which Oakland residents will surely look back upon with deep regret for years to come.
California Library Association strongly encourages the Mayor and City Council of Oakland to abide by Oakland voters’ 2004 mandate to support library services through Measure Q, and to sustain the minimum $9.1 million general fund contribution needed to access $14 million in Measure Q funds and keep Oakland’s libraries open.
Paymaneh Maghsoudi, President
Carol Simmons, Executive Director
California Library Association
Since I was a small child, libraries have been a significant part of my life. It has provided me with books that I could never have afforded, and a wonderful resource for reference materials..
With library closures, only the well to do will be able to afford the written word.
Montclair, Oakland CA
I don’t know what to say other than the fact that our neighborhood Oakland library is one of the reasons we live in Oakland. I am not kidding. We transplanted to the Bay Area about two years ago and started out in Berkeley. Pretty soon, our lease was up and we were priced out of that neighborhood, which brought us here. We were reluctant at first, but now smitten. Or was anyway until the prospect of these library closures. To me, this would be as though the city announced the closure of most of its parks and playgrounds. And if it is willing to make such outlandish proposals, what in the world are we doing here?
For a year now, I’ve taken my three-year-old daughter’s hand (she was two when we started) and walked a couple of blocks to the Golden Gate Library.
Golden Gate Library was her introduction to libraries, period. It is a refuge for us. The fact that it is so close and is housed in a beautiful, historical building has just really sealed the deal for us. Going to this library every week has made me feel like part of the community, like a true Oakland resident. A year ago, we thought we’d pack up and move out of Oakland, but changed our tune as we saw so much positive change in this community and really found a home away from home at the library.
Now, my daughter is almost 4 and we went to the library today like we do every week. I told her I was sad that this library might close soon. She responded, “Don’t worry mommy, libraries don’t get closed.”
I work for Center for Elders’ Independence, the local PACE program that works to keep frail seniors living in the community rather than moving into nursing homes. We have two PACE centers at Eastmont Mall serving well over 200 seniors who are home bound — many in walkers and wheelchairs. We take them on fieldtrips to the branch in the mall and help them apply for library cards and check out books. It’s a vital part of helping them stay informed and active in the community. Please do not close this branch!
I’d like to suggest we move all our libraries to be financed the way Oregon finances their libraries. In Oregon, libraries are not financed through the city but have taxing authority. Every five years residents around the library vote to keep the library open with dedicated funding. It makes libraries accountable to residents and doesn’t allow them to be shut down by cities if the residents still want them. With library usage increasing over the last decade, we cannot afford to lose this valuable resource.
(Letter to City Council)
Dear Council Members,
I was born and raised in Oakland and have spent many of my 57 years here. My husband and I have also owned a home in East Oakland for 20 years, where I have raised my family. I grew up using the Oakland Public Library, as have my children. Libraries are not only a vital resource for children; the magazines, audiobooks, DVD’s and databases that the library provides keep my mind agile.
The Eastmont branch, is our home library. It is one of the few sanctuaries that is free and open to every member of the public, young or old, in this neighborhood. Please do not close the Eastmont Branch Library or any other library in Oakland. I will support a parcel tax if it supports our libraries.
Please do not fail East Oakland, keep our libraries open.
Dear Oakland City Council:
As a retired school librarian, I volunteer at Brookfield Village Elementary School as a Reading Partner and also help classes with library research projects and book selection. I am writing once again to urge you not to close any of the branch libraries, but today especially on behalf of the Brookfield branch.
Several weeks ago, I accompanied a second grade class from Brookfield Elementary to the Brookfield Branch of the Oakland Public Library, which is located a block from the school. The children enjoyed the tour, especially the part where the librarian showed them where their favorite series titles are located. Those with library cards eagerly selected books to check out, and others completed applications for cards. They are all looking forward to the summer reading program which begins June 16. Or will it?
Not only will it be disappointing for these children if their branch library closes as of June 30, but also the progress they have made during this school year, especially those who have participated in Reading Partners and Super Stars Literacy, will be diminished because these children will not have access to books over the summer.
Even more devastating is the probability that their school library will only be staffed one day a week during the next school year. Even though Brookfield School is part of the Brookfield Literacy Zone and receives support from the Oakland Literacy Coalition and other groups that provide tutoring and other literacy support, what good can all this help possibly do if the children don’t have access to lots of real books to read and keep reading. With extremely limited access to books in the school library and no branch library in their neighborhood if Brookfield closes, it’s as if we are teaching these kids how to chew, swallow, and digest but not giving them any food to eat.
These children come from families with limited financial resources and many of them are English language learners. Keeping the Brookfield branch of the Oakland Public Library open and its resources available to these children will provide them with the learning and language development opportunities they need and deserve.
Raynor (Randi) Voorhies
Warmth of Other Suns
http://www.wandasabir.blogspot.com (May 25, 2011)
This evening at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, was special. The line wrapped around the corner of 14th Street at Martin Luther King Jr. as people lined up to hear Isabel Wilkerson talk about her book: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.
The free Wednesday evening event just spoke to what libraries are all about–telling stories, convening audiences who might not have met otherwise. As Wilkerson said, we have more in common than we differ, and the stories she shares in Warmth capture a period in American history previously undocumented the way she tells it. I am so looking forward to reading the book–I have been on the OPL waiting list for the past month. I hope my number comes up soon (smile).
As Wilkerson spoke about her parents who met in Washington D.C. whom she stated, fortuitous for her, without such she wouldn’t have been born, others in the room that evening shared similar histories, that is, the migrations connection to their lives.
The span of the black migration was wide, regions relocating in geographic waves, Wilkerson pointed out, evident in the hands that went up when the author asked whose family was from Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas–California populated by people from those areas of the south.
Similar to other immigrants, these southern populations impacted the culture of the places they settled, especially musically we learned as the author shared the stories of Michael Jackson’s family, Diana Ross’s, Miles Davis’s and John Coltrane’s. Through gentrification and systematic displacement, most of that physical legacy of these early black communities is now almost gone.
Wilkerson spoke about the caste system, a system another author, Michelle Alexander, speaks about in present terms in her award winning book: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan spoke briefly. She pushed the parcel tax scenario when asked about keeping AAMLO open. Parcel taxes to raise money for library services have been passed before. Remember Measure O and its companion, Measure Q. Each guaranteed longer hours, more materials and better services. Measure Q is in effect through 2024. Shouldn’t the discussion be, where is that money, what happened to City of Oakland promises to pay for matching funds, before asking for more?
KTOP was there taping the program, so Oakland audiences will be able to see the author talk later. I reflected on Richard Wright as Wilkerson ended with the Wright quote she takes her title from. On the occasion of Richard Wright’s centennial birth, his daughter Julia Wright joined us at the Annual African American Celebration through Poetry at the West Oakland Branch Library from Paris via phone. She spoke about her father and read some of his haiku poetry. I later met her at the Critical Resistance 10 Conference at Laney College in Oakland, California.
In Black Boy I recall Wright’s reflection on going to the library and having to have a white co-worker forge notes for him so he could check out books. Black people couldn’t check out books in Chicago at that time. Discrimination was not limited to the south, something Wright wrote about in his memoir and in the Native Son–
Wright knew southerners were not the only black people confused over their place. He writes about this often dangerous discomfort in his sequel to Black Boy, American Hunger. Confused, his factual and fictional characters try to navigate this terrain with varying degrees of success.
His northern experience is not the happy picture Wilkerson painted in her story this evening, yet even in its bleakness, Wright’s experience in the north was more than he could have imagined back home. He had a job and opportunity to grow intellectually even if that growth was isolated and lonely.
Wilkerson’s book rings a chord just because the reasons half the black population in the south left are ironically present with us today— second class citizenship and an urban caste system one inherits merely by the color of one’s skin or the block one lives on. In Oakland, the funding for public education is supposedly not affected by where one lives, but we all know that’s a popular myth which is certainly untrue.
Both authors, Wilkerson and Alexander, speak about a caste system, Alexander’s is more pressing if one looks at Oakland where more youngsters are caught in the judicial web in civically sanctioned curfews—more like house arrest. When one casually polls Oakland youth, more often than not, many of them are in some sort of custody—that is, they are enslaved and not free.
What does a kid do to change his or her circumstances? How is true transformation accomplished? Knowledge is the change agent, knowledge of oneself and knowledge of one’s world. This travel takes place quite often in books.
Malcolm X speaks of this often. People said of him that they always saw him with some reading material in his hands. Look at the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, its foundation centered on political education. Members were given books and got together regularly to discuss what they read.
Literacy is the mark of civilization and culture. Free libraries are so important! They are more important in the places where one feels the least safe than the places where the crime and violence is minimal.
Ignorance is the worse type of criminal act—it is genocide! When one has lost access to information, when an entire community has lost access to information that can transform its thinking and awaken its consciousness then this act—that is, the suspension of access to information and knowledge more effectively decimates a people than all the CIA dumping of crack and guns in urban communities.
These urban safe houses or libraries are where transformation takes place—libraries connect communities to each other, libraries also help people find themselves, even those who weren’t aware they were lost prior to stumbling in.
I used to think heaven was a library and the librarians angels. How can one be surrounded by so much information and not be a change agent—
I have lived in Oakland a long time. Raised in San Francisco and born in New Orleans, I remember the Greyhound bus ride when I was three with my mother and little brother to San Francisco to meet my dad, who sent us the ticket when he was released from Angola State prison, the largest state prison in the United States. Angola is also a former slave plantation, today the prisoners descendants of former enslaved Africans, the guards and prison administrators, descendants of former slave holders.
Uncanny coincidence isn’t it?
Literary is close to me. I can touch it. I can touch the places in my life when people who looked like me couldn’t vote because they couldn’t read and write well enough to pass the test. My mother’s sisters were in public school, segregated schools when the governor of Louisiana closed down public education rather than have black kids attend with white kids. Do you know that for an entire year they were out of school? The white kids had private schools, but most of the black kids were dependent on public education.
It is the same with libraries. Where are the poorer kids going to go when the libraries shut down? Their parents aren’t going to be able to buy them all the books they want to read and what about those books out of print? Those rare titles? It will be what happened to the elders and the sick and shut in the disabled when the Oakland Public Library’s Book Mobile was stopped. These patrons no longer have access to reading material. With the aging of our population, studies have shown that the more active we are mentally, the less likely early senility.
Reading is preventative medicine and prolongs the quality of one’s life.
I have lived in Oakland over 30 years and have served ten years on the Library Commission and on the Friends of the Oakland Public Library Board where as a writer for Off the Shelf (FOPL newsletter) wrote a profile on all the branches which numbered, at that time, 13, plus the Oakland History Room. As a columnist for the Oakland Tribune’s “Good News,” Oakland Public Library featured often in my column as I highlighted delightful people.
I am a trustee of the Northern California Center for African American History and Life, the organization that partnered with the OPL to establish the African American Museum and Library, at Oakland. I knew many of the founders. I heard them talk about their vision for AAMLO and why such an institution is so important then and now.
I work for Peralta Community Colleges as a tenured professor, English faculty at the College of Alameda. I raised my children in West Oakland, and started, 21 years ago in February The African American Celebration through Poetry, the oldest program in the OPL system. I am a volunteer. When I started it, it was to keep the West Oakland Public Library open. The administrators felt that the West Oakland community, at that time, majority African and American didn’t need the branch open—so they would snatch staff and close the branch.
I remember all the measures and bills passed to secure the funding for library hours and staffing, also seismic retrofitting. Many a February approached, including 2011, when we weren’t sure if the West Oakland Branch Library would be open on the weekends. Several programs were spent getting the audience to write letters to council and the mayor to keep the branch open. And we survived another year and another year.
I have a long memory, most black people have to, as we aren’t the one’s telling the stories and so we have to remember things the way they were and pass it on. I remember all the branch librarians at West Oakland, Christine Saed, now Veronica Lee, and the library directors, Martin, Billie Dancy . . . at that time, most of them supportive of community programming and libraries as integral to community life and services. Mayor Elihu Harris was one of our best library supporters. He even visited the West Oakland Branch when we got computers.
I don’t understand why libraries are even on the cutting floor 2012-13 fiscal year. It is like sucking the oxygen out of the room and expecting us to live. The libraries are never a deficit item, and when these taxes are passed, the promises made to voters, at least where libraries are concerned are never kept.
What is to say this one will be? The general fund is a huge black hole that gobbles up resources irrespective of earmarks, at least where libraries and other important services, like Parks and Rec, the Arts, which includes the Film Office, and Senior Services. Why are those departments that make life really worth living are concerned always in jeopardy?
Why protect a life void of content? If one has nothing to live for, all the police on the street don’t matter. The value is internal and for some people that lesson is not intuitive—it has to be learned and how else than in a book about some great man or woman one can believe in?
I own a house in East Oakland, so all tax proposals affect my pocket. I don’t see the benefits of any city funding in my neighborhood—whether that is paved streets or bike paths, not to mention speed bumps or other public safety concerns like diesel trucks parked on residential streets, an environmental pollution concern.
I am not opposed taxes when there are guarantees, just like the ones that are keeping the work around Lake Merritt on task as bus lines are cut and the death of Oakland is on the table—if you shut the libraries you kill our city.
I love the Oakland Public Library! I am in the enviable position of living near three of the branches: Temescal, Piedmont, and Rockridge. My husband, daughter, and I are committed library supporters. The Piedmont Avenue Branch was the first library that my daughter visited (at just a few weeks old), and she loves it so much so that now, at 2 1/2 years old, she calls the Piedmont Branch her library. We were sad to hear that the Piedmont Branch might have to move, but devastated to hear that 14 OPL locations might have to close, and appalled at the possible decimation of the Children’s Department. Summer Reading Programs are proven (by a study by Dominican University) to keep children from losing reading gains that they made during the previous school year. We would be putting the children of Oakland at a distinct disadvantage by closing the library at any time, especially since school libraries in Oakland are practically non-existent, but to close them just as Summer Reading is about to start seems cruel. You hear about how children don’t want to read anymore, but no one (thankfully) told that to the children who fill libraries every day.
My family just attended two wonderful Saturday morning “Rockin’ Robin” programs, where toddlers and their families took part in storytime, followed by a child-friendly and age appropriate workshop, one on yoga, one on dance, and one on creating art. They were fun programs that brought people into the library, exposed children to books, and helped the library serve it’s other, lesser known function as community hub and community builder.
I know some of the wonderful and talented librarians who work for the Oakland Public Library, and know that they put their heart and soul into the work that they do for the community. I would hate to see all their hard work rewarded by job loss, because, among other things, honestly, we, the residents of Oakland, would suffer for it. In these economic times, people need libraries and the services they provide more than ever. As a librarian in another city, I obviously value books, but that is not all the Oakland Public Library provides: literacy services, tool lending (one of only two tool lending libraries in the Bay Area), connecting families and individuals with resources, computer services and training, cultural programming, Teen Services/Programming, knitting, Lawyers in the Library, tax help — I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface. So many of the people who are least able to travel to areas outside of their neighborhoods are most in need of their neighborhood libraries. Let’s please not let this be an organization that we let slip away and think wistfully about when it’s gone. Closing that many branches ensures that it will be a hard fought battle (nearly impossible, I’m scared to say) to reopen all of them.
I grew up in a failing public school system that swept problem children under the rug rather then deal with them. Libraries were a refuge for me. Providing endless books to better myself despite any social or economical setbacks. All children deserve the right to better themselves! All humans deserve the right to public Libraries!
The library is so important to the lifeblood of the community. It is one of the first places that children can go to safely explore the outside world. It is a place that can plant those first seeds that grow into a love of reading and learning, that benefits our society as a whole. As a first time mom the library was a place where I could bring my son for story time, where I met a woman who is now one of my closest friends. My friendship with her introduced me to a whole community of cool home-schoolers, with whom I now share thoughts and ideas and often childcare. Without Dimond library, we probably would not have connected.
The local library is an essential, vital part of my family’s life. When we moved to Rockridge in 1998, we visited the temporary structure at Claremont middle school. We were thrilled when the new building opened, and visit every single week.
We attended countless storytimes with our two children. Our children are both avid, voracious readers, and feel Rockridge branch is our second living room.
We love hanging out, running into friends and neighbors, sharing book, DVD, and CD recommendations, making discoveries on our own.
They participate in the Summer Reading Program every year.
We’ve enjoyed craft projects, magic shows, puppet shows.
Libraries are VITAL to a civilized life! The quality it adds to our life, our neighborhood, our community by having a library we can walk to, with knowledgeable, involved, helpful staff, is beyond measure.
A community without a library lacks a vital organ. I shudder to think of the effect it would have if it were to go away – the access to all that the world of READING brings to a life! The joy, growth, knowledge, interest, participation.
It cannot go away.
I take my baby to the library every wednesday for story time. The library has been a wonderful place for me to go as a new mom. I would also use the internet and rent DVD’s when we were too poor to pay for internet and tv ourselves.
It would really be a crying shame to close down something that does so much for the community, children in particular. Closing the library is just going to hurt the city of Oakland. Wouldn’t crime and joblessness go up? Now kids won’t have a safe place to go after school or access to information to better themselves, and people who need to use the internet to look for jobs or write a resume can’t. Me and my husband pay taxes, and I want my tax money to go to the library!
My family uses the Temescal Library almost weekly. Keeping up with a two year old requires lots of entertainment, and the children’s section helps us avoid “digital babysitting,” ie, movies. From cookbooks to legal guides to vacation trading, I always try the library first. We need Oakland’s libraries open so that all residents can access the resources to become good learners and citizens.
I am a homeowner, a mother, a UC professor, and a proud Oakland resident. Libraries are essential for the health of communities, families, and young people, and are an investment that pay huge dividends down the road–in terms of increasing literacy, encouraging civic engagement, strengthening community and neighborhood ties, and giving young people a safe place to learn and to broaden their horizons. As a mom and lifelong library patron myself, I have been taking my sons (ages 2 and 5) to the various branches of the library every 3-4 weeks and check out books and DVDs for the past 5 years–it is a value I want to hand down to my kids. My husband and I (both of us are avid readers) also use the Montclair branch of the library for our own enjoyment regularly. As a parent of an incoming OUSD student, one of the things I have been impressed with is the integration of the Montclair branch of public library with the Montclair elementary school, where I have seen kindergarten teachers taking their classes to the children’s section to look at books and work on reading. It is appalling that the Mayor would consider closing all but 4 branches of the library, it sends exactly the wrong message to children, to parents, to teachers, and frankly to taxpaying homeowners—who may start to look around for other communities to live in once Oakland leaders decide to cut services that we value and that enhance our lives and the lives of our children. I’m dismayed that Mayor Quan and the city council (and I vote!) are even considering this when the Oakland public has very clearly sent the message with the passage of Measure Q that the libraries are important and essential parts of civic life. There must be other ways to balance the budget, and preserve the things and institutions that make Oakland a great place to live and raise a family.
In 1956 I started to go to the Lakeview branch library with my first grade teacher. In 1983 I brought the first of my four children to that branch. All during the summer they read stacks of books for the Summer Reading Program. I am now a member of the Book for Wider Horizons reading every week at Head Start in West Oakland. The libraries provide one of the few safe places for children in this city. The closures represent a nail in the coffin of a civilized, literate, involved democracy. It is imperative that the Police and Fire unions recognize the connection between their efforts to support a safe community and the development of children and teens to pursue a life that keeps them from becoming perpetrators or victims of crime. Despite the fact that the majority of Oakland police do not live in this community nor is their contract up for renewal they, as well as the firefighters, need to come to the table and start talking about how a contribution to their pensions can result in a safer Oakland.
My husband, son and I visit the Lakeshore branch library every Saturday morning. It is our favorite family ritual, and a wonderful way to connect with a diverse group of our neighbors. We love our library!
I’ve lived in Oakland for nearly two years. I had hardly opened my first electric bill before I took it to 14th St. and happily brandished it as proof of address so that I could apply for a card, and I’ve gone to return and check out books almost every weekend since then. Life without a healthy library system would be an incredibly impoverished one for me, and for the city.
It would be even sadder to grow up in that environment – trying to help a city’s economy with a move that will not only cut current librarians’ positions, but that will deprive children of the materials they need to learn and develop skills for future jobs, would be incredibly shortsighted. Raise my taxes, please, if that’s what it takes to keep the libraries running.
The looming threat of closing our libraries saddens me deeply. I am a Second Start literacy tutor, and have been meeting with my student twice a week for going on 2 years. During those two years, I have had the extreme pleasure of tutoring a wonderful, intelligent, dedicated woman who makes the commitment to see me for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday. It has been an absolute honor to serve her and my community by doing what little I can to help her grow. Not only that, but she has helped me grown in ways that she probably could never imagine. The thought of losing this great opportunity brings tears to my eyes and sorrow to my heart. It is unfathomable to me how little our society seems to value education, and by closing the libraries we are simply taking away more opportunites for folks to learn, grow, and better themselves. Many of the Second Start students are there because the system gave up pn them long ago. Please, please don’t allow the system to keep failing them! Save Oakland Public Libraries, and save the Second Start literacy program!!
Libraries are an essential part of having an informed, connected community. The Temescal Tool Library has been so incredibly helpful to me as a new homeowner in this blooming neighborhood. Both the expertise of the staff, and the accessibility of the equipment that is there help make many tasks much more manageable. I have been trying to slowly build the video collection at the Temescal Branch, and hope that in a few years, with the help of the community, we will have a good dvd collection that the entire neighborhood can share. To close down all but 4 libraries would be a shameful event, and a vote against the literacy and education of our struggling city.
(Letter from librarian Amy Martin to Jane Brunner)
Dear Ms. Brunner,
I am an Oakland Public Library employee, and a former resident of your district—two years at 3903 Clarke St, near 40th and Telegraph. That beautiful old house with the sun and soft wood floors held me for my first two years in California, and the neighborhood gave me the first home I’d ever known outside of Illinois. Thursday nights in summer, this homesick Chicagoan could find comfort and peace in the sounds of Beebe Memorial Cathedral’s gospel choir rehearsing over the beautiful California sunset. Your district made me feel at home in California.
The Oakland Public Library has made me feel at home in librarianship. I’ve worked for the Chicago Public Library, Hayward Public Library, and San Francisco Public Library, and never before found the home that I have in Children’s Services at the Oakland Public Library. Not a single library system I’ve worked for has provided as much for the public, on less funding, as Oakland. Oakland’s children’s librarians, under the leadership of Nina Lindsay (whose remarks you heard at the budget hearing on May 12) are a treasure; teen and adult librarians bear similar distinction. We have in our ranks nationally recognized professionals in the field (with day jobs, of course, as beloved community figures).
Nina Lindsay serves on the Board of Directors for ALA’s Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC), blogs for School Library Journal (http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/heavymedal/), and reviews new children’s books for SLJ and Kirkus. She chaired the prestigious Newbery Award committee in 2008. Gay Ducey, children’s librarian at the Rockridge Branch, is a nationally known children’s storyteller and co-founder of the Bay Area Storytelling Festival (http://www.colorado.edu/cwa/bios.html?id=719&year=2006). Amy Sonnie, teen outreach librarian, is a blogger, scholar, and published author (http://bannedlibrarian.wordpress.com/about/). Dorothy Lazard of the Oakland History Room was just featured in Oakland Magazine (http://www.oaklandmagazine.com/media/Oakland-Magazine/May-June-2011/She-039s-Got-the-Whole-World-in-Her-Hands/). Branch Manager Sharon McKellar is currently serving on the ALA Notable Recordings for Children committee, and reviews children’s books on Israel and Palestine for School Library Journal. Ana-Elba Pavon wrote a book for ALA on Latino craft projects (http://www.librarything.com/author/pavonanaelba). Barbara Bibel reviews books for Library Journal. Oakland librarians are active, contributing members of Bibliotecas Para La Gente (Bay Area chapter of REFORMA, library services to Latinos), the American Library Association, ALSC, and other national library organizations.
And that’s just what they do on their personal time.
All of these professionals would lose their jobs if Oakland shutters its library system. Their absence would not only be suffered within Oakland, whose residents would no longer benefit from their excellent service; it would be noted by the library community nationwide. The proposed cuts to Oakland’s library system would be a source of national embarrassment.
You can’t put a price on the years of experience, professional association activity, and national recognition Oakland’s librarians bring to the city. And yet it seems City Council has done just that—and not only put a price on it, but declared that it not valuable enough to fight for. I vehemently disagree. I implore you to do what you have to do to bring Oakland police back to the bargaining table, whether that’s threatening police layoffs or declaring a state of fiscal emergency, thus re-opening police contracts. Oakland library employees are resigned to taking cuts, as we have over the past five years, but we can’t possibly absorb it all. Police must give their share.
Please compel them to do so. Many, many Oakland residents cannot afford to buy the books they need, the computers and internet service they require to find jobs, apply for social services, and communicate; thus, Oakland cannot afford to lose its library system, and does not need the humiliation that would come with its loss.
(my letter to Mayor Quan)
Dear Ms. Quan:
I’m a children’s librarian with the Oakland Public Library, three years now. Before that, I held the same position at San Francisco Public Library, Hayward Public Library, and the Chicago Public Library.
When you ran for Mayor, many of us in the library supported you. We celebrated when you won. We knew you are a lover of libraries, have a personal connection to them, and authored much of Measure Q.
What a shock it has been to see you propose a budget that decimates our city’s library system. And then to see Council claim that, barring a parcel tax (which cannot happen this fiscal year) and employee concessions (which we will give, though we can’t possibly give back enough to save the libraries without concessions from Police), they have no other choice but to adopt that budget.
There IS another choice. There must be cuts to police funding. The amount of the city’s general fund that goes to the police is unrealistic and unsustainable. If Council threatened to lay off 200 police, they would return to the bargaining table. If they don’t, Oakland should declare a state of fiscal emergency, which would re-open police contracts. After all, what is it but a fiscal emergency when a city cannot maintain its core services?
And I hope you are not under the impression that “temporary” layoffs and library closures are possible. You cannot lock up 14 buildings full of books, movies, tools, and other items the citizens have paid for, even temporarily. Those materials belong to the taxpayers of Oakland.
Police should contribute to their pensions. I also believe that civilianizing some positions is a good solution. I do not believe that Council are powerless over the police at this point. If that were true, it would be horrifying. Core services taken away from residents because police don’t want to contribute to their pensions? That’s a frightening statement about the power of the police, and the ineffectiveness of city government, in Oakland.
The loss of our libraries would do irreparable harm to residents and taxpayers, and would leave Oakland’s library system the worst in the nation, an embarrassment to a mayor who ran for office with testaments about them on her lips.
I am from Venezuela , South America, one of the richest country in the 80′s. We never took care of low income population, education nor culture. Now my country is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Please, keep open access for everyone to education, culture and recreation if we want to have a better place to live. I love Oakland!
In the past, I used the library to borrow DVD and read magazine. When I became a teacher, I used the Oakland library teaching purposes. I often told my students and colleagues I borrow books from the library. The library helped me to build my curriculum planning and learned to be a good story reader. I do not want any library to close or cut down services. My students and their families depend on the library for story time and afterschool program. They hang out at the library in the weekend as well.
I hope Oakland politicians can reconsider the important of literacy and community building, keep the library open and improve it. This is the one of the way to lower crimes and increase students academic performance.
I am writing in response of hearing that many of Oaklands libraries may close due to budgetary problems. Firstly as many have stated , voters made it clear by passing measure “Q” how important libraries are to them. therefore it is up to city officials to support measures and initiatives voted in by the public and not to undermine and ignore the voice of the public. I will add that these are the same people whom many voted in city officails now holding offices.
Next I would like to add that in this time of cuts to schools and many other social programs it is the public libray that has become the safety net of society , for example giving the youth a healthy safe envoronment to pursue higher learning after school, computer access that many do not have at home, adult programs, bilingual language programs, legal advice, childrens programs etc. To close libraries would be a travesty, it would deny thousands of there right as tax payers and Americans to access free knowledge and as many know knowledge is power.
Thanks for your consideration
My family lives in Emeryville. The City of Emeryville contributes funds towards the operation of the Oakland libraries in return for the use our residents make of the library system. My family uses the Golden Gate branch on average twice a week. Our daughters take out books & DVDs and we take art classes there. They love the library. It’s a wonderful safe old building loaded with charm. The books we have taken out over the years have helped our daughters learn the power and enjoyment of reading, as well as how to care for books and be responsible for them. If it closes it will leave a big hole in our lives. I’ll confess I don’t know all the fiscal challenges the city of Oakland faces, but it seems to me that closing libraries is a backward and short-sighted solution. Oakland residents who use the libraries are curious people who enjoy learning – they are the future entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, teachers, activists, civil servants of Oakland. They are responsible citizens. Closing libraries will just hurt the city in the long run by making it harder for these people to reach their full potential and help Oakland thrive.
Please keep the libraries open. And if you can’t keep them all open, please keep the Golden Gate branch open. Thank you.
I have been going to the West Oakland Library since I can remember. I am 27 years old right now, and it has been a tradition for my children to participate in the summer reading program offered at the West Oakland Library. We are West Oakland residents, and the West Oakland Library is the only library West Oakland has. This library is more than a library, but it also is a positive, physical staple in our community. Here is where dreams are born as one may discover a book and lives are felt normal as the neighborhoods can be threatening as violence continues. The West Oakalnd Library offers a very positive and safe environment for children and families. It is tradition (and has been since they were all in strollers) for my children (ages 5, 4 and 2) and I to pack a lunch and head out on our walk to the library to get new books and movies and then to Defermery Park before heading back home. This libray has brought great memories and brought my family closer.
Oakland’s main library is the reason why my 15month year old loves books. Ever since we started going to story time she loves to look through her books and read with her dad and I . Closing our oakland libraries is taking away the possibilites for our young children. without this program and other’s our children are losing a great resource to grow.
We have many students here needing help from the Second Start program at the Oakland Public Library! There are many English speaking students, but they need to learn how to read and write, and learn how use the computers too. And there are also many students learning English as a second language. We understand that balancing the budget is tough, but we need help. Would you please keep the Second Start program open to help us! We are learning to survive and to live a better life in America.
The Second Start program has a beginning reading and writing class that I have been taking to help me read better. Also my English is getting better. My dream is to become a translator and if my English gets good enough I can achieve my goal. But I need Second Start’s help. Second Start is important for me. Please don’t close Second Start. Help me with my dream.
Second Start student
Public Comment Remarks to Oakland City Council
May 12, 2011
My name is Nina Lindsay. I’m a born & raised Oaklander, graduate of Tech, homeowner, and employee of the Oakland Public Library where I’ve worked for over 15 years, most recently coordinating the work of the children’s librarians throughout the system.
Children’s library services as we know them will cease to exist under the Mayor’s proposed budget Scenario A. I want to make sure you understand what these services accomplish.
You know the effect that Oakland’s high school dropout rate has on unemployment, crime, and poverty. A recent study by the Annie E Casey Foundation shows that “Students who don’t read at grade level by third grade are four times more likely” to be high school dropouts than proficient readers. “Kids who are poor readers and live in poverty” are six times more likely to drop out.
Numerous studies link access to print materials with reading ability, especially for children in poverty, and especially when the child gets to pick their own reading material. So far this fiscal year, Oaklanders have checked out nearly 325,000 children’s items from the library, accounting for 40% of the library circulation. Our annual Summer Reading Game rewards children for reading books of their choice. The reward? A book of their choice to keep. Last year more than 8000 kids participated, and we served as a model site for the California Library Association’s pilot to prevent summer reading loss.
The major social problems our city faces are all predicated on kids’ success in school. The National Center for Education Statistics shows that reading success is positively influenced by access to public libraries, not only through materials, but also through programs. Recent research shows that literacy behaviors learned in the first 3 years of life are the crucial building blocks to later reading success. All of these behaviors are modeled in our libraries’ storytimes. We currently offer 26 regular weekly drop-in storytimes throughout the city, in addition to those scheduled on request by teachers. My office also coordinates a corps of volunteers who provide weekly storytimes in dozens of Head Starts and CDCs.
If we can get them at age zero, we can keep them for life. This doesn’t happen by magic. It happens because the city’s voters made overwhelmingly clear in passing Measure Q that they wanted a full time children’s librarian at every library. These librarians are constantly connecting young people, caregivers and community organizations with library resources. They have done hula-hooping storytime at school assemblies, held overnight camping trips in the library, and been dunked in the Dunk-the-Librarian tank, all to get kids to use the library. And it works. New children’s librarians hired last summer have doubled the circulation of children’s materials at their branches. Hundreds of school kids screaming at the 81st Avenue Library hadn’t just seen Justin Bieber: they were watching the children’s librarian open the first box of books being delivered to their library.
The Mayor’s Scenario A leaves 4 library locations open, but without coordinated children’s services, without the grant support necessary to leverage the tens of thousands of dollars that fund our programs, and without the assurance of a trained children’s librarian at each location. The Mayor may intend to reopen branches 1 by 1 as increased revenue allows, but this critical infrastructure will be gone. Because of seniority and call back rights, there is no guarantee of a trained children’s librarian at each branch until we are again fully funded. No story time, no Summer Reading Game. Teacher and daycare providers will be left in the lurch.
The library is the one public place in our city where an individual child’s needs are as important as any other individual’s, regardless of age. A toddler’s need to open and close a book is vital. A nine year old’s need for a private corner with a pile of comics is vital. A young person’s need for access to information without question or judgment is vital.
Any major cuts to libraries–even if only for 1 year–will jeopardize our entire community for a generation, because it will take many years to bring back these services once they are cut–critical years that cannot be replaced for our youngest. Kids need to read to graduate. If they don’t, we all pay.
I’ve given you only one picture of how Oakland libraries support the most basic needs of our community. You have heard and will hear from seniors, job seekers, immigrants, teens, adults learning to read…. As a lifetime Oakland resident, I reject the implication in the Mayor’s proposal that adequately staffed and distributed public library services are any less essential to our city’s health and safety than Police. As a homeowner, I will vote for a parcel tax to support adequately funded city services, and I will help campaign for it–let’s put this to the voters. As an employee, I will vote for whatever concessions my union negotiates on my behalf, with the assurance of concessions from Police. You do not have to sacrifice our libraries to balance this budget.
west Oakland library help me out with the reading and computer. I am learning, please
keep the library open.
There is good detailed information on the development of the threats to Oakland libraries at http://save41streetlibrary.wordpress.com/.
When it started, it dealt with the threatened loss of the Piedmont Avenue branch library, a threat hardly anyone believed.
Most recently, it has covered all the threatened Oakland libraries comprehensively.
So many people depend on libraries. we know Playwright, August Wilson dropped out of school due to teacher cruelty and taught himself by going to the library everyday. so many students tell me they would never have graduated if they could not get books and use the facilities of the Oakland Library and the limited hours have caused many an F when they arrived at the library and the doors were closed.
The digital, literary and job hunt divide is bridged by the libraries in Oakland. High School drop out rates and unemployment would rise with out the services and hours of the Oakland libraries.
Please don’t close them or shorten their hours.
Closing the libraries would mean an irrevocable loss for Oakland! I remember visiting the Piedmont Avenue branch as a child, picking out a stack of books on each weekly trip with my mother after school. Back then, that small branch seemed like a huge place filled with a thousand gateways into a thousand different worlds. Now I am a student in a PhD program at UCLA, but I still visit the same Piedmont Ave branch in the summertime to check out academic books that are far too expensive to purchase for myself. My love of reading has enriched my life immeasurably and provided the means to get me where I am today. Closing the libraries would mean closing the doors on my favorite things about Oakland: diversity, creativity, equality, and that great indefinable idiosyncrasy that makes me proud to call Oakland my hometown. Please do the right thing and make sure the libraries have enough funding to continue providing their invaluable community services!
I tried to send a request to Democracy Now.The request is. How can you still recite the words of Martin Luther King?Surely you can see the unjust treatment black people recieve in California.Our people can not ride a airplain in peace No country will speak up to America in our defience.Ablack president does not mean nothing to us.We need support as you are doing in the middle east. We need help now. Democracy Now. Thank you World for just reading my remarks.
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