Saving local librariesMay 28, 2009
Most Oaklanders are well aware of the budget crisis that is forcing the city to make a number of drastic cuts to service across the community. (Sadly, this story isn’t unique to Oakland—communities across the state and the country are struggling to find funding for the arts, recreation, parks, and other services.)
But I found this particular approach to saving an Oakland branch library—one of the two near us—particularly compelling. The friends of Lakeview Library, which is currently slated to be shuttered five days a week, are trying to save the library through a storytelling campaign. (Get the full info on the proposed library closures here.) Anyway, so Lakeview’s advocates asked community members young and old to write about or draw (electronically or otherwise—they’re accepting hard copies of stories and drawings at the library itself) the library’s impact on their lives.
Here’s how the organizers frame their project:
“Lakeview Library is desperately scrambling to stay alive. The city wants to cut its services in half, open only three days a week, even though Lakeview’s patronage exceeds that of four libraries which are used far less. Our neighborhood uses Lakeview: more than a third of the April petition’s signatures were collected at Lakeview.
We’re collecting and consolidating our community’s voices, and have launched Lakeview Library’s Blog. This blog will collect library stories and e-mails to city officials and use them to demonstrate that our neighborhood wants and needs our
Why is the library is important to you? Use your own story and add a personal flavor to our community’s entreaties. Did you meet the love of your life there? Get coached for your citizenship exams? Learn to knit or play chess? Discover a new genre of book or music? Send you and your kids home every week with a new batch of bedtime stories? Tell your story!
Tell your story…
- ELECTRONICALLY: Tell us your library stories as a comment to the blog.
- ON PAPER: For those who prefer crayon, ink, photographs, there’s a printable PDF. Just drop the completed form in Lakeview’s drop slot.
There’s no dedicated email address for Lakeview Library’s Friends group…yet. Until we get one, please take a moment to paste your emails, letters or faxes to our mayor and council into the comments section. (You can print your letter or email and drop it at Lakeview if you prefer.) Thanks!”
Will it work? Who knows. The budget situation is so dire this year that it’s hard to see where any savings might come from to fill the gaps for situations like this. But at a minimum, this will document the importance of the branch libraries even in our 21st century world so that their services can be restored as soon as funding becomes available again…hopefully at some point in the not too distant future. One can hope, at least!
Other ways to support Oakland’s libraries
- Join Friends of the Oakland Public Library or shop at their bookstore in Old Oakland (you can even buy books from them on Amazon!)
- Visit Save the Libraries, a web space for all of the branch libraries, which is also running a lower key story campaign.
- Attend one of the upcoming budget meetings on Thursday, May 28 or Monday, June 1 (see the link above for full details).
- Write to your elected officials—City Council reps and beyond—to let them know which libraries you use, when, and why. Do it soon, though—the revised budget will be before Council next month.