By Shanthi Gonzales

This week is National Library Week, a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association and libraries across the country (including here in Oakland), which celebrates the contributions of the country’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnQhDK71Gq0]

Libraries are special places for me.  As a kid, I spent a lot of time alone, but I was a good student and I loved to read, so libraries where places where my special gifts were valued and I felt welcome.

As an adult, I see libraries as critical places in our community. I live in the flatlands in East Oakland, and many of the kids in my community do not have much in the way of reading materials at home, or even Internet access to access online resources.

Yet we know that access to reading materials is critical in literacy among children. Kids who are not reading at grade level in third grade are far more likely to drop out of high school. Libraries are natural partners with families in their efforts to help their children develop a love of learning and to succeed in school.

My neighborhood branch is the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Library at 69th and International. I am a member of the MLK Branch Friends group, and I am proud of the services offered to children and families at the branch, including materials in Spanish, storytime, a book group, services for teens, and more.

We are hosting a Dia de Los Ninos/Dia de Los Libros event this Saturday, April 19, with children’s musician Juan Sanchez and snacks. Each child will leave with a free book (and hopefully knowing some new songs, too)!

Nearly all the branches are holding similar events.  Check out what is happening at your local branch by clicking here.

For more about National Library Week, click here.

Shanthi Gonzales serves on the Oakland Library Advisory Commission and is a Candidate for the Oakland School Board in 2014.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland.
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About The Author

The Library Advisory Commission reports and makes recommendations to the Oakland City Council on Oakland Public Library policies; provides citizen oversight of Measure Q tax funds; and advocates on behalf of OPL programs and services. The Commission consists of 15 seats, appointed by the Mayor and Council. The public is welcome to attend the Commission’s meeting which are held on the last Monday of the month at 5:15 p.m. in the Brad Walters Community Room at the Main Library, 125 14th St.

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