Berkeley's Great Libraries

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Thursday May 24, 2012 - 05:06:00 PM

I've just received the Spring issue of "Berkeley Bookmark," a newsletter of the Berkeley Public Library. It's jam-packed with items of interest for book lovers. Foremost is the announcement of the Friends' Annual Luncheon, to be held Wednesday, June 20, noon, at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, Berkeley. Special Guest will be Ann Thomas, owner of Pegasus Bookstores, speaking on "Thirty Years of Bookselling in Berkeley." Other items to be discussed will include Elections to the Friends' Board of Directors, Financial Update, Service Awards for Library Staff -- Library Director, Donna Corbeil, and Library Foundation Capital Campaign Update. Please bring a brown bag lunch. Beverages, fruit and tasty desserts will be provided. RSVP by Friday, June 15 (510) 981-6152 and bring a friend! 

The Friends of the Library is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to support and expand the educational, cultural and outreach programs of the Library. 

Berkeley's much loved North Branch Library re-opened April 7 after a year's closure for renovation and expansion. Over 1000 people attended the opening ceremonies, and the consensus was "Wow!. Music was performed by the Crowden School's String Quartet, ribbons were cut, speeches made, and refreshments were enjoyed, thanks to the Friends. Some of the improvements of this Library include a spacious meeting room with state-of-the-art A/V equipment, more public access computers, WiFi and video conferencing capability, comfortable chairs throughout, hundreds of new books and other materials, funded by a generous donation from the Friends of the Library. North Branch, built in 1936, cost $45,000; $29,000 of that came from the city, and $16,000 from the Federal WPA. In 2008 Berkeley voters passed the $26 million Measure FF to renovate the branches. Already the Foundation has provided $75,000 for North's new renovation. North Branch is Berkeley's most heavily used branch, hosting more than 320,000 library visits a year. On any given day, over l, 000 items are on hold. The branch staff also provides story time for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, summer reading programs for children and teens, and adults. 

Claremont Branch re-opened on May 5th after a year-long construction process. Its re-opening will be celebrated in the next issue of "Bookmark." 

The Friends' next humongous book sale is scheduled for Saturday, June 2. The Central Library's meeting room will be overflowing with thousands of books, all priced at 50 cents each. Phonograph records, CD's, DVD's maps and other surprised will be sold for the same bargain price of 50 cents each. That's June 2nd, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the third floor meeting room at 2090 Kittredge. 

Another very worth while program is Debbie Carton's weekly "Playreading for Adults," held on Wednesdays at 12 p.m., where a round table of participants read and discuss popular plays, both classical and modern (i.e., Kaufman and Hart's "Merrily We Roll Along" and "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." 

Creating a great public library requires support from many sources. Your individual donations help keep Berkeley's public library system vibrant and responsive. You can stay in touch the Friends at the Channing Way Book Store (510) - 841-5604 and the Central Library Book Shop (510) 981-6211. Checks made payable to Friends of the Berkeley Public Library may be mailed to 2090 Kittredge, Berkeley, Ca. 94704. 

It's hoped that Berkeley's dedicated library patrons will contribute generously to the outstanding libraries in our community, .