Many cities need to cut budgets drastically, my city of Oakland, CA, is no different. As of now, there are 3 budgets scenarios out there. One scenario proposes to close 14 of Oakland's 17 branches. That is just craziness!! We've been up in arms about it for the last month or so locally.
Under Scenario A, the following services will be cut:
- 13 branch libraries are scheduled to close: Asian, Brookfield, Chavez, Eastmont, Elmhurst, Golden Gate, Lakeview, Martin Luther King, Melrose, Montclair, Piedmont Avenue, Temescal, West Oakland
- 4 remaining libraries – Main, Rockridge, Dimond, and 81st Avenue – would only be open 3 days a week
- Main Library will close its Children’s Room, Teen Zone, and Oakland History Room
- The Tool Lending Library and the African-American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) will close
- Second Start Adult Literacy will close
- Limited funding for new books, DVDs or other materials purchased
- Discontinuation of electronic services like downloadable books and databases
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.
See these community letters in support of our libraries
What does your library brings to your community?