Vol 7 # 6   March 15, 2023

Notes from our librarians

From Shani Boyd, Children’s Librarian

Join us at Piedmont Avenue Library as we bring in the spring season with a fun suncatcher take-and-make craft! Also pick up holiday books for Women's History month, Holi, St. Patrick's Day, Ramadan, and César Chavez Day!


March Family Programs


March Baby Café

Saturday, March 18th at 10:30 am – 12 pm

Join us at the Piedmont Avenue library for snacks, songs, and socializing! Babies and toddlers are welcome with adults. Drop in at any time during the program. Inside the library, masks are required for everyone ages 2 and up.

Mini Puppet and Storytelling Craft

Saturday March 25th at 2 pm - 4 pm

Make a mini puppet or two and create a story to go with them.


Ongoing Programs

Toddler Storytime

Tuesday at 10:15 am – 10:45 am

Songs, active rhymes, and stories especially for ages 18 months to 3 years. See you there!


Friday Tech Support (for Library eResources)

Friday at 3 pm – 5 pm

Unsure about eBooks or streaming audiobooks? Having trouble with the Libby, Kanopy, or Hoopla apps? Call the Piedmont Ave. Branch at 510-597-5011 to schedule a time to bring your device (phone, tablet, e-reader, etc.) to the library and staff will help you set it up.

PAL’s Importance to Seniors

Piedmont Avenue Library (PAL), next to an elementary school and a just a block from a bus route, has a large number of patrons who are senior citizens. Why do we think that is? First, of course, seniors are more likely to have free time during the day than many of us, but it could also be that seniors prefer the library to a bar or coffee shop. Why do we think that is?

Could it be because loud conversations and social interactions are discouraged at the library? Those of us of a certain age can recall the image of an older woman with her finger at her lips, a symbol for KEEP IT QUIET. But it’s not that way anymore, especially at our local branch, with its easy access to the outdoors and to the sounds coming from the elementary school next door. 

Could it be the easy access? It is only a short walk from our busy shopping area. Walking to it is an easy and pleasant way to get there, and there are ramps for patrons in wheelchairs or using walkers.

Maybe all of those reasons, but mostly we like it because it is a thriving center of neighborhood interests.

It is like Alice’s Restaurant; you can find most anything you want. If what you’re looking for is not on the shelf or listed in the catalog, the librarian can use the library’s computer network system to help you find it. The system the librarians use tells them what’s available at other branches as well as Piedmont Avenue.

Not all of the senior citizen library patrons are proficient in computer use and the librarian’s assistance can be a big help to them. 

And our librarians are the ones who set up the summer programs, with a variety of presentations – from clown shows to presentations on history and science.

So, yes, The Piedmont Avenue Branch is a neighborhood treasure for all ages and physical conditions. Hope to see you there.

By Ruby Long, a neighbor whose work has appeared in local and national publications.

From the Friends of PAL -

Can Our Library Have a New Home at the CDC?

The next meeting - Tuesday March 21, 6:30 PM at the library (masks required) will review preparation tasks to work on while waiting for the City's feasibility study on converting the former Child Development Center located next door to the current branch. We know that we will have a very short time to give input to the project concept that comes out of the study, and the building lease may be cancelled unless construction funding is secured by 2024 (as described in our January HOOT).

To support this project, we will need friends and supporters to help with researching grants, improving our database for friends and donors, and increasing our general outreach events and visibility at the CDC. Please come if you are interested or think you know someone else who might bring enthusiasm or experience to these tasks, or get in touch at contact@friendsofpal.org

Tax Help in the Library

The Oakland Public Library works with the AARP Foundation and East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), to provide free tax help during tax season, usually February through the April tax deadline.

Get free tax preparation assistance from AARP Tax-Aide volunteers at the Main Library and four branches. Registration is required. Go to the OPL website to get more information. https://oaklandlibrary.org/tax-help/   

In Memory

We are deeply saddened to report that David Moore, our long-time graphic artist and dear friend of the library died last month.

David began his pro bono relationship with the Friends of PAL ten years ago by creating the "Owl," which has appeared in every edition of the HOOT and on many FOPAL posters, bookmarks, and buttons. In addition, he designed the "cut-outs" that grace the fence at the library.

He never turned down a project and was always kind and generous with his time. He will be missed.

The Avid Reader by Louis Segal

I’ve been an avid reader since I could read. In high school I used to cut school to read in the Berkeley Public Library.  I’m writing this column to share some of the books I love. I hope, perhaps, you might grow to love a few of them. 

Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead [2022]


Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel opens with an epigraph from Charles Dickens: “It’s in vain to recall the past, unless it works some influence upon the present.”  Kingsolver’s novel shares Dickens’ aspirations and many of the plot turns and names to be found in David CopperfieldDemon Copperhead is an homage to Dicken’s great autobiographical novel. While Dickens was concerned with the human effects of industrialization in mid-19th century England, Kingsolver is concerned with the human efforts of deindustrialization in contemporary Appalachia.  Both novels are full of penury, meanness, and ultimately resilience and the redemptive power of art. Neither author spares us from the profound social degradation of their separate epochs but also there is something lyrical and loving in their respective narratives. Some won’t like either because it makes them uncomfortable or sad but I found Kingsolver’s Demon to be ultimately hopeful.


The hero of the book, like Dicken’s Copperfield, is born in a caul. His father dies before he is born, his mother dies of an overdose before he’s 10 and he’s abused by his stepfather and exploited in foster homes toiling in homes and in the fields. He smokes and drinks and seems to find temporary respite by becoming a skilled athlete. He lives, for a while, in the house of his drunken coach. By the time Demon is fifteen his knee is blown playing football. He is betrayed by his hero, a bold and rambunctious, quarterback. Once again he is at the mercy of a cold world with no direction home. And yet he finds refuge in the home of a neighboring family, and in their extended family, and a few good teachers who focus his energy and his innocence into graphic novels.  As he says at a fourth of July fireworks show in chapter 39 “Never taking a minute to count up all I’d seen… Yes, life sucks, hungry nights and hurtful people, but compared to buried in a box, floating in a universe of nothing and never? I wouldn’t trade. I watched a pinwheel of green fire swirl over the treetops throwing white sparks. My dad, mom, and little brother were missing out on a lot of amazing shit.”


Kingsolver’s book reminds me of Harriet Arnow’s The Dollmaker, Harry Crews’ Childhood, and Billie Holiday’s Lady Sings the Blues. These are all tales of artists who emerge out of brutal childhoods and, yet, find art provides redemption from their difficult childhood. 


The New York Times reviewer gives a snide condescending review of the book as about oxycontin and concludes Demon “may be poor, injured, orphaned, landless, and haunted by dead friends - but what’s all that next to the pleasures of self-expression? Here, finally, is where optimism - of character and author alike - takes on the quality of delusion [NYT, October 16, 2022].” This review of this wonderful book takes on the qualities of a callow cynicism. If you have a big heart and believe in redemption, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.



By Louis Segal. Louis was born in Oakland, raised his family in Oakland, dropped out of school in 1968, worked many jobs over the decades, dropped back into school in the 80s, got a Ph.D. in history, taught as an adjunct professor from 1993 to 2015. Retired but not withdrawn. 

What's Happening at the Library

Tuesdays - Toddler Storytime, 10:15 am - 10:45 am

Fridays - Tech Support, 3 pm - 5 pm

3/18 - Baby Cafe, 10:30 am - 12 pm

3/21 - Friends of Piedmont Avenue Library Meeting, 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

3/25 - Mini Puppet and Storytelling Craft, 2 pm - 3:30 pm

4/29 - Clean up at the CDC, 86 Echo, 10 am - 12 pm

Our library is open 6 days a week

Sunday Closed

Monday: 10 am – 5:30 pm

Tuesday: 10 am – 8 pm

Wednesday: 10 am – pm

 Thursday: 10 am – 5:30 pm

Friday: 12 pm – 5:30 pm

Saturday: 10 am – 5:30 pm

The Friends of the Piedmont Avenue Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Our tax ID is 84-4203055.
All contributions are tax deductible.

A direct and compelling headline