(Oakland) – Despite the recession, thanks to a creative collaboration between State and local agencies, and funding from private foundations, the newly constructed 81 st Ave. East Oakland Community Library at 1021 81 st Ave. will open to the public with a grand opening on Saturday, January 29, 2011, at 11 a.m. The event will feature live music, a short video presentation, food, fun activities for children, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony before patrons are welcome to enter the new library. Mayor Jean Quan and Councilmember Larry Reid will be among the speakers at the dedication.
The library is good news for area residents and school children. At 21,000 square feet, it will be the largest branch in the Oakland Public Library system. Thanks to its sustainable design, it is also one of the city’s first municipal buildings to be LEED Silver certified. The spacious interior, with high ceilings throughout most of the main level, offers ample natural light and a warm, welcoming feel. The Library features children and teen areas, an Internet cafe, copy center, an adult reading room, community meeting room, a computer lab, multi-media classrooms, and WiFi connection. The plans were drawn by Group 4 Architecture Research + Planning.
The 81 st Avenue East Oakland Community Library is the first joint public library–school facility in Oakland. It occupies a school-district site alongside ACORN Woodland and EnCompass Academy, both elementary schools . In addition to providing services to the general public, the new library will serve as the school library for the two adjacent schools.
The new library will feature Our Oakland: Eastside Stories, a public art project consisting of a 64-foot-wide bank of clerestory windows in the main reading room, by artist Rene Yung. The art glass design expresses the theme of interconnectedness within the community as well as the neighborhood’s historic role as a major agricultural center. Continuing these themes, Yung also created an interactive website entitled OurOakland: Eastside Stories(www.ouroakland.org). This digital archive contains stories told by residents through photos, videos and audio narratives gathered during a series of Community Storytelling Days. Local residents will be able to add content to the archive. The art glass and digital archive were commissioned by the City of Oakland’s Public Art Program and funded through the “Percent for Art” Ordinance which requires the allocation of 1.5 percent of municipal capital improvement project costs for public art.
The total project cost is $14.8 million. The 81 st Avenue East Oakland Community Library was funded by public and private sources. The California State Library awarded a $6.5 million California State Library Bond Act 2000 construction grant to the City of Oakland in 2004. The Oakland Redevelopment Agency provided the local matching funds, totaling $4.7 million. The Oakland Unified School District provided the site for the new building and $497,000 for furnishings, fixtures and equipment (FF&E). The Friends of the Oakland Public Library and hundreds of individuals, foundations, local businesses and organizations donated over $3 million for FF&E and books for the Opening Day Collection. Major funders include the Estate of Lawrence L. and Hisako Betty N. Shrader, the Koret Foundation for the Koret Computer Lab, the Kresge Foundation, and the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation.
For more information, please call the Library at (510) 238-3271 or visit www.oaklandlibrary.org. The Oakland Public Library is a department of the City of Oakland.