Category Archives: Library

Fathers the focus of Nancy Rubin’s photography show

Photo: Nancy Rubin
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When Nancy Rubin taught the pioneering Social Living class at Berkeley High School from the late ’70s to the ’90s, she became something of a public figure and was often asked to comment on the challenges faced by teenagers. People would say: if there was one thing that could be changed to help the kids who are getting in trouble, what would it be? Rubin was quick to point out that there was no “magic wand.” However she did have a suggestion: “Put a loving father in every home.”

That’s not to say that children can’t be raised exceptionally well by a single mom or two women, Rubin said recently at her home, where she was preparing for her first solo photography exhibition that centers on fathers. All sorts of kids do really well in all sorts of family situations, Rubin stressed. But as someone who grew up with a “wonderful, warm” father, Rubin could only wish the same for the students she was mentoring, some of whom had no relationships with their own fathers.

Rubin’s show, “Faces of Fatherhood: Celebrating Bay Area Dads” opens on Saturday June 6, with an opening reception from 6:30-8 p.m., at Berkeley’s North Branch Library, and runs until July 1. … Continue reading »

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After outcry, library board votes to change South Branch name to include civil-rights leader

Protesters at BOLT meeting. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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The Berkeley Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) Thursday night voted to recommend to the City Council that the South Branch of the library be renamed to include the name of Tarea Hall Pittman (1903-1991), a long-time South Berkeley resident and civil-rights leader.

The 4-1 vote overturned a previous April 22 vote by the board that prevented the library from including Pittman’s name. The decision marked a shift in its renaming policy that applies to all four Berkeley libraries, so petitions for more name changes may be in the city’s future.

Read more on the run-up to Thursday’s meeting.

Public outcry, in the form of a grassroots campaign by South Berkeley neighbors to see the library renamed, led by local resident Charles Austin, appears to have had an impact on the board, which called the special May 7 meeting to reconsider both the general naming policy of its libraries, and whether to include Pittman’s name in the South Branch’s name. Campaigners collected more than 2,000 signatures on a petition in favor of the idea.  … Continue reading »

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Library to reconsider proposal to rename South Branch

The South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library opened in May 2013. Photo: Richard Friedman
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The Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) will hold a special session Thursday May 7 at 6:30 p.m. to make a final decision on a community proposal to rename the South Branch library after a local activist.

At its April 22 meeting, BOLT considered the petition to rename the branch at 1901 Russell Street after the late Tarea Hall Pittman, a black civil-rights leader and radio host who lived nearby. The five members heard impassioned speeches from community members and ultimately voted 3-2 against a motion to suspend the library naming policy, which would have allowed them to vote on the proposal.

Two of the trustees who voted against the motion, Julie Holcomb and Jim Novosel, were up for reappointment at the April 28 council meeting.

At that meeting, Councilman Laurie Capitelli pushed the item to the June meeting to allow for further discussions about the name change.

“I realize that there are a lot of people here tonight to support Ms. Pittman and I think probably a lot of frustration in the audience coming from last Wednesday’s meeting,” he said. “I think people of goodwill are reaching out to one another. I think we’re going to find a path forward.” … Continue reading »

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Museum doubles as a library in Berkeley artist’s show

Berkeley artist Josh Greene's book-based show opens today. Photos: Contemporary Jewish Museum
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In our tech-centric world, it seems like books could end up as artifacts in museums any day now. A Berkeley artist is speeding up the process — but far from a digital evangelist, Josh Greene is doing it out of reverence for the old medium.

Greene’s two-part exhibition Bound to be Held: A Book Show opened March 26 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. There’s The Library of Particular Significance, a lending library made of 700-800 books Greene amassed during various book drives. The companion show, Read by Famous, is a collection of books donated by people in the public eye, who provide notes explaining why the books are meaningful to them. The former is a set up to be a social event, whereas the latter is a traditional museum experience: look, don’t touch. … Continue reading »

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Events mark 50th anniversary of Free Speech Movement

An iconic image from the Free Speech Movement, which erupted on the Berkeley campus 50 years ago. Photo: UC Berkeley Libraries
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Oct. 1 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, a protest that only lasted for three months but set the stage for the turbulent 1960s.

On that day, thousands of UC Berkeley students surrounded a police car parked near Sproul Plaza. A young man named Jack Weinberg was inside. He had been arrested for distributing political material on university grounds despite rules that forbade it.

Many of the students who spontaneously surrounded the police car had been involved – or had been watching – the Civil Rights movement emerge. They were outraged by the injustices of the Jim Crow south. They had protested when the House Un-American Activities Committee held hearings in San Francisco. They had been furious when Clark Kerr, the president of the UC system, had declared that it was illegal to hand out political pamphlets on university grounds. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Public Library’s Branch Out draws thousands

Soji and the AfroBeat band Berkeley Library Branch out
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This April, the Berkeley Public Library marked the completion of its Branch Library Improvement Program with a month-long celebration. The event, called Branch Out, consisted of over 170 programs and helped draw thousands of visitors to the Library.

True to its name, Branch Out featured a wide range of free workshops and activities for all Berkeley residents. The Central Library and its four branches put on author talks, book clubs, arts and crafts sessions, daily geocaching sessions and a multitude of other programs designed to stimulate the mind, body and soul.

Scattered throughout the month were larger gatherings that attracted hundreds of people each. These included after-hours concerts, a family-friendly First Friday festival showcasing local artwork and a barn dance. All were catered by local eateries. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Library Director Donna Corbeil to retire

Screen shot 2014-05-28 at 11.05.23 AM
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Donna Corbeil, who oversaw the renovation and reconstruction of Berkeley’s four branch libraries, will be stepping down from her post as executive director of the library system in September.

Corbeil has headed the Berkeley Public Library for seven years. In that time, she oversaw the completion of a master plan for the branch libraries, which led to the placement of Measure FF, a $28 million bond,  on the November 2008 ballot. Corbeil then managed the renovation of the North and Claremont branches and construction of two new buildings for the West and South branches, giving Berkeley one of the most modern, energy-efficient, handicapped-accessible and light-filled branch systems in the state. The project was brought in on budget. … Continue reading »

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Free events celebrate Berkeley’s revamped libraries

Kids browse the bookshelves at the December 2014 opening of the South Branch. Photo: Richard Friedman
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Call it a “library warming.”

As a way to celebrate the completion of its branch renovation campaign – and highlight the dozens of community programs it presents each month – the Berkeley Public Library is hosting a month-long party.

The Branch Out! celebration will bring concerts, art exhibits, pop-up libraries at food truck gatherings, a sleepover party for stuffed animals, mindfulness meditation, and that beloved event – author readings – and much more to a branch near you in April. … Continue reading »

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Lawsuit yields money for historic preservation in Berkeley

Concerned Library Users did not want Berkeley to tear down the old South Branch because they and others considered it historically significant.
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Berkeley residents may soon see the fruits of a legal settlement between the city and a group that sued over plans to tear down and rebuild two branch libraries.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Wednesday that it will award $87,000 in grant money to historic places in South and West Berkeley. The money can be used for maintenance, physical improvements, and preservation of historic properties.

The Trust is encouraging “properties with a clear public benefit that are open to the public on at least a part-time basis,” to apply online by May 15 for grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. … Continue reading »

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The most adorable photos you’ll see today: Paws to Read

Photo: Nancy Rubin
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Seriously, the Paws to Read program at the Berkeley Public Library’s North Branch is inspired. Those dogs really do seem to be listening to the kids reading to them — from appropriate books, of course, like Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog and Bones and The Dog Gone Mystery — and the children practice oral fluency, spend time with a friendly dog, and have fun.

The program, which runs weekly for kindergarten through 5th-grade kids, sees children reading aloud to a gentle dog provided by TherapyPets, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization based in Oakland.

Berkeleyside contributing photographer Nancy Rubin dropped by on Tuesday this week to capture the event.

The library says the goal is to help build a child’s self-esteem and confidence, as well as foster a fondness for reading. We just say, “Awww.” … Continue reading »

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New $7.5M Berkeley West Branch library to open Saturday

The adult seating area has comfortable furniture and tables made by Berkeley-based Swerve. There is an abundance of natural light, too. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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When the new West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library opens on Saturday Dec. 14, officials hope that it not only becomes a place for people to take out books, but a community center that allows people to collaborate and build their businesses.

The new 9,300 square foot, $7.5 million structure at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo) — first net-zero library in California — will have the largest community meeting room in the branch system. It can hold up to 100 people and it can be configured for video conferences and computer coding, as well as for meetings. There are numerous electrical outlets near the tables to accommodate laptops (which are also available for use) and a long counter that faces out onto the small garden holding a newly planted cork oak tree.

“It’s really not a traditional community reading room but an extension of the library,” said Library Director Donna Corbeil as she pointed to the glass wall that separates the meeting room from the rest of the building. … Continue reading »

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News

Berkeley’s West Branch library to re-open in December

Berkeley's West Branch Library under construction. Photo: Eli Wolfe
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Construction continues at a brisk pace at Berkeley’s West Branch Library, which is scheduled to re-open in December, after the holidays.

The completion of the West Branch, which is located at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo), will mark the end of a four-year overhaul of Berkeley’s branch libraries. Voters passed a $26 million bond measure in 2008 to fund the Branch Library Improvement program. The North and Claremont libraries were re-opened in 2012, and the South Branch was re-opened in May.

The West Branch, like the South Branch, had to be completely demolished and rebuilt. The new 9,300-square-foot library has been built to improve seismic safety and make it fully ADA-accessible. The library has been designed as a Net Zero Energy building to meet LEED criteria. Services in the library have been expanded and enhanced. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Juneteenth jump rope. Photo: Esteban Allard-Valdivieso.
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BERKELEY’S JUNETEENTH FESTIVAL  The RD Bonds stage will be ringing with music this Sunday as Berkeley celebrates its annual Juneteenth festival, whose roots reach back to the 19th century. Although President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the rebelling Confederate states, in January 1863, news of the signing didn’t reach Galveston, Texas, until two years later on June 19, 1865. The ensuing impromptu party gave birth to the national Juneteenth holiday, which celebrates African American culture and tradition. Sunday’s festivities will include food vendors alongside spoken word and dance performances, a basketball tournament, art for children, and every stripe of music from neo soul to African drumming. The family focused festival will be held in South Berkeley’s five-block Adeline-Alcatraz corridor from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Details at the Berkeley Juneteenth website. … Continue reading »

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