What It Means To Be White

Challenging assumptions and underlying beliefs about race; an exploration of whiteness in history and today.


 “…these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.” - Ta-nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me

Ta-nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me has been a highly requested title here at Oakland Public Library since its publication in 2015. The insightful memoir/essay in the form of a letter by an

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"Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues, you can tell by the way she smiles."

Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize in Literature

Thursday morning we woke to the news that singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was named the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature. The Swedish Academy is honoring Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." He is the first American to win since 1993 when the prize in literature was awarded to Toni Morrison. 

Dylan said once in an interview with NPR reporter Steve Inskeep, "Having these colossal accolades and titles, they get in the way." They can't be too much in the way since he now has another to add to his Presidential Medial of Freedom, his Oscar, his Golden Globe, his dozen Grammies, and his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Dylan's is the first songwriter to receive the prize in literature but his work is firmly in the tradition of poets like Homer and Sappho whose poems were meant to

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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in October 2016

Here are ten great books coming out this month, including three Booker Prize contenders.

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Sesame Street Presents: Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration

Resources for helping a child deal with a challenging situation, an incarcerated parent.

Last month a child I know personally came to me crying because she learned her mother was incarcerated. After sobbing her heart out to me her last request was:

"... and don't give me a book Ms. Nichole. Every time I have a problem you are always giving me a book to read!"

I replied something like, "Sweetheart I'm a librarian, not a shrink. I can listen but I can't help, not really. Maybe reading a book can help?"

She said "no. I'm too sad to read."

Since books were not an option at that time, I sat her down with my tablet and headphones and let her watch this:

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Black Panthers at 50: Syllabus - Events - Exhibits

Oakland Library commemorates the Black Panther Party's 50th Anniversary with events, exhibits and a syllabus for K-12 students.

Collage with 4 book covers and the words Black Panther Party 50th AnniversaryFifty years ago, the Black Panthers took to the streets of Oakland to defend Black residents against police violence and city neglect. Soon, the Panthers electrified America with a bold image of Black militancy and some very basic demands, “We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace."


Who were the Panthers and what did they achieve? What can we learn from their influence on culture, music and mass media? From their grassroots social programs — including free breakfast for children, health clinics and liberation schools — and from their "Rainbow Coalition" uniting poor people of all races. Yes, the Panther’s did that too.

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Advice for Writers (and Readers!) from Laurie R. King

Acclaimed mystery author Laurie R. King offers advice for writers and readers.

Cover of The Beekeeper's ApprenticePhoto of Laurie R. KingCover of The Murder of Mary Russell

If you’re a mystery reader, you probably know bestselling author Laurie R. King. She’s the winner of many major book awards, including the Edgar, Agatha, Creasey, Nero, Macavity, and Lambda, not to mention a number of other award nominations. She’s best known for her detective series featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, starting with

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Melrose Branch Library celebrates its 100th Birthday!

Brief history of Melrose Branch Library in celebration of its centennial

This year marks the centennial of the Melrose Branch Library, the first of four Carnegie Libraries built in Oakland.

The area we know as the Melrose District was once a thriving, semi-rural town south of Oakland. The town boasted large factories like the Oakland Chemical Company and a diverse array of light industry (machine shops, lumber yards, planing mills). Banks, tailor shops, pharmacy, and real estate offices could also be found there. Every twenty minutes people could go to the Melrose Terminal and board a Southern Pacific train, or get on a ferry at Clark’s Landing, as the Melrose wharves were known, to travel to San Francisco. East 14th Street (now International Boulevard) was the main commercial strip of the town.

Melrose School shared its building with Union High School #4 (later renamed John C. Fremont High). People, skeptical that the district couldn't justify having a high school, were surprised at how quickly the school filled with students. After the 1906 earthquake, families moved to

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Exploring Queer Lives: By Nightfall

Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall: "Post-gay" fantasy lives of the art and beauty obsessed.

By Nightfall novel jacket black tulip facing downThe Hours novel jacket

Michael Cunningham’s  By Nightfall is a gorgeously written novel that reveals the inner life of Peter, an art dealer and gallery owner in his 40’s who finds himself powerfully drawn to his wife’s beautiful, directionless  younger brother.  Michael Cunningham is the prize-winning author of many novels, including The Hours, which he has described as a tribute to

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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in September 2016

Wondering what to read next? We've got 10 great books for you, coming soon to the library.

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Homework hint...

Melania Trump taught my son a new word.

Creative Commons photo "Homework" by Roberto Faccenda is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This has been a really interesting political season. I'll be the first to admit I am enjoying watching the process unfold. All of the plot twists are better than any night-time

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