If you were lucky enough to visit the Rockridge Library this morning, you likely saw lots of furry friends in the parking lot and even more happy young faces. Funded by the Friends of the Rockridge Library, the library organized a popular petting zoo where some of our littlest neighbors had an opportunity to get up close and personal to animals they never see on the streets of Oakland. Supplied by Barnyard Pals, there were bunnies, ducks, a mama goat, a baby goat, chickens, and two baby pigs. At one point there were more than 40 people in a line winding around the fenced enclosure. Children in wait were made more patient by Erica the Children’s Librarian, who supplied coloring and activities to fill the time before young hands met fur and feathers.
Why animals at the library, you ask? Well, libraries bring the world to our communities. Sometimes you fill your imagination with new adventures, other times the library provides those new experiences for you. One parent shared that this was the first time her child had ever touched an animal other than a dog or a cat. Events like these encourage families to become more deeply connected to the library. Libraries are a reflection of who they serve, and as libraries organize more imaginative activities that provide exposure to the staff, to the building, and to what the library offers, the library can develop a greater community of lifelong learners, starting with our youngest neighbors.
The summer reading program at the library is a prime example of this engagement. If you’ve ever heard of the summer slide—the time during summer break when kids’ learning is at risk of slowing down and losing some of the achievements they gained during the school year—you should know that the library is a critical asset for bolstering learning during this time. A fun and engaging petting zoo may introduce a child to the library, a somewhat minor exchange with a significant impact.
This is why we do what we do: the Friends of the Rockridge Library helps the library extend their reach and provide programming and services that encourage our entire community to become engaged learners for a lifetime.
I will add that adults had a fun surprise, too. Members of the Friends of the Rockridge Library board were at the event, sharing what we fund and why we do it. We brought a bit of excitement to the adults in the room with a prize drawing of gift cards from Cole Hardware and Cactus Taqueria, and a gorgeous gift basket generously donated by Nathan and Co. Winners were thrilled, one sharing that this was the first time she had ever won anything! We’re happy to do it. Thanks to everyone who turned out today.