Let’s get right down to it: libraries in Oakland are facing real troubles. These are serious troubles, the kind that close branches, the kind that cut off neighborhoods from the resources they rely on, if people don’t vote for libraries on June 5th.
Measure D, a parcel tax of $75, will fund our libraries as they should be supported: adding hours, maintaining programs, supporting services, and continuing to offer a safe space for youth and for anyone who walks through the doors.
If Measure D does not pass, branches will close. Fewer libraries means reduced services, like access to books, to computers and the Internet, to DVDs, to story times, to STEM programs, to afternoon crafts, to book clubs… I could fill the pages of the Rockridge News with the types of programs and services that would be lost. And if Measure D does not pass, libraries could be closed as early as July 1, 2018.
Even if you don’t use the library, this is the sort of scenario we should all dread. Libraries are the last bastion of democracy, a place where enrichment, discovery, social services, and open access to ideas and information are free and available to everyone. A lost library is a cumulative loss, felt for generations.
Did you know that one third of Oakland Unified School District’s school libraries are closed? This means that Oakland youth are relying even more heavily on the services of the city’s public library system, visiting branches in droves. If you’ve ever stopped by the Rockridge library around 3 pm during the week, you’ll notice the incredibly popular Teen Zone packed with students who are learning, making, and having fun.
Imagine now what it might look like for a family if their neighborhood library closes. A mother relies on the public access computers to check her email and find and apply for a job; a youth is encouraged by a librarian who recommends books that bolster his emerging love of reading; a grandmother reads the newspaper at the library each morning and finds a lively community of knitters; a teen’s interest in science is stoked by the STEM Fun program; toddlers and their caregivers participate in story times; teenagers learn to code. This is just a tiny example of the types of services that will disappear if Measure D does not pass.
If this doesn’t convince you to vote Yes for Measure D, consider what Walter Cronkite said about libraries:
"Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation."
Please vote YES for Measure D on June 5thor on your mail-in ballot. For more information and opportunities to get involved, visit www.protectoaklandlibraries.org