Kids, Teen Reading, Summer Programs in Full Swing

The Alameda Free Library’s Summer Reading Program runs from June 14 to Aug. 9. Drop by the library soon for full details; students receive prizes for their efforts!


Summer events for tweens (kids entering 4th-8th grades) are taking place at the Main Library at 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Friday afternoons in July, when there will be drop-in activities for tweens with Wii games, Legos, board games and snacks.

Special tween programs include origami and crafts at 1 p.m. on Friday, July 18, and the movie “Flipped” at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 29.

For teens, several special events are scheduled throughout July:
– 1 to 5 p.m., Friday, July 3, for Makerspace Madness, when teens can practice hands-on, fun chemistry, like making glow-in-the-dark gel;
– 3 to 5 p.m., Thursday, July 10, and Friday, July 11, for making paper projects, such as origami, book-binding, pop-up paper creations;
– 6 to 8 p.m., Monday, July 14, for building musical instruments out of everyday objects;
– 1 to 5 p.m., Thursday, July 17, for a challenging scavenger hunt complete with prizes; and
– 1 to 5 p.m., Thursday, July 24, for a teen book swap and smoothie making.

For more information about ongoing kids’ programs, go to the library’s website.


Alameda Library Offers Computer Classes on Sundays

The Alameda Free Library invites residents and students to drop-in computer class from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The free courses are offered through September 25 at the library, 1550 Oak Street.

The drop-in classes are focused on training in Microsoft Word 2003.

No registration is required, and seats are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Residents can start the class between 1 and 5 p.m.

It is suggested that students have some basic computer knowledge before attending.

See the library’s website for more details.


Alameda Library Shares Art Talk, Exhibits

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, June 22), the Alameda Free Library will present a talk on artist Pablo Picasso. The discussion will be led by Marsha Holm, a docent at the de Young Museum of San Francisco.

The program coincides with the San Francisco museum’s exhibit that includes more than 100 works by the master and that were loaned to the institution by the Musee National Picasso in Paris. The exhibit opened June 11 and runs through October 9.

Today’s talk is sponsored by the Friends of the Alameda Free Library.

Currently, the main library has two exhibits on display. One is a series of paintings by local artist Jan Toepfer, a long-time Alameda resident who started painting seriously in 1994.

The Oakland Art Association is also showing works from its juried exhibit in town through June 25.


Alameda Library Hosts Social Networking, Other Events This Week


The Alameda Free Library has a variety of activities scheduled for this week, April 18-22.

Today and through the end of April, the 10th annual Wood Middle School “Museum of History” exhibit is open to the public on the second floor of the library.

The show features student-made replicas of the world’s monuments and other historical artifacts. Recycled or recyclable materials have been skillfully put together by students to make the models.

There’s also a savenger-hunt worksheet for students to complete, if desired.

On Tuesday, April 19 (and also on April 26), the library is hosting a class on using Facebook from 6 to 8 p.m. Those who wish to register should call 747-7777 or send email to afltrains@ci.alameda.ca.us.

And from 6:30 to 8 p.m. this Wednesday, April 20, the library and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art present a talk on “Frida and Diego: Mexican Originals.” The program will focus on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, including their time and contributions to San Francisco.


Alameda Group to Host Forum on Middle East Political Developments

The Alameda Public Affairs Forum will host a presentation on the current wave of political upheaval in the Middle East from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, at the Alameda Free Library.

The discussion is entitled, “Upheaval in the Middle East: End of the Washington Consensus and the Fight for Democratic Self-Governance,” and the speakers are Joel Beinin, a professor of history at Stanford University, and Carl Finamore, a staff member and writer for Trade Winds and past president of the Air Transport Employees Local 1781.

The forum will focus on questions, such as:
-What does the upheaval in the Middle East mean for American foreign policy?
– Will democracy emerge in the Middle East?
– What about workers’ rights, and will unions be independently organized?

Finamore has just returned from Egypt and a YouTube video outlines his thoughts on the recent revolution there. Professor Beinin is a well-known expert on Middle Eastern affairs and an author of several E-books on the region.

A reception is planned from 6 to 7 p.m., so guests are asked to bring food or drink to share.

To enter the library and find parking, go to the rear of the Alameda Free Library, at Oak Street and Lincoln Avenue.


Alameda Wraps Up March Reading Program; Gardening Events Continue


Author Novella Carpenter, who wrote the book “Farm City” and sparked the theme for Alameda Free Library’s 2011 Community Reads Program, spoke last night, Thursday, March 31st, at 7 p.m at the Main Library on Oak Street.

About 50 residents and visitors attended her talk.

Carpenter’s memoir details her experiences turning a vacant lot in Oakland into a thriving farm with fruits, vegetables, farm animals, and bees. The book shares stories, tips, and a great deal of heart and humor.

In March as part of the community-reading program and theme, the library opened a seed-sharing library and garden tool-lending library, which are now available to residents.

For residents looking to learn more about urban gardening, Alameda Backyard Growers will host a talk on “What You Need to Know about Lead in Your Soil” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 14, at High Street Station Café, 1303 High Street at Encinal Avenue.

The speaker is Steve Calanog of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Lunar New Year Comes to Alameda


The Alameda Free Library, 1550 Oak Street, is celebrating the Lunar New Year from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today, Saturday, February 19.

During the afternoon celebration, Pauline Tsui — a Chinese brush artist and docent of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco — will demonstrate calligraphy and brush painting.

There also be hands-on calligraphy activities and presentations of Chinese New Year’s customs.

Today’s event takes place in the back of the library in the Regina K. Stafford Community Room, where refreshments will be served.

A special event focusing on the arts of Bali, Indonesia, is also planned at the library on Wednesday, February 23.



Alameda Group to Host Forum on Internet & Information

The Alameda Public Affairs Forum will host a discussion focusing on the future of the Internet as a free source of information from 7 to 9:30 p.m. this Saturday, February 12, at the Alameda Free Library on Oak Street at Lincoln Avenue.

The event will feature Peter Franck, former president of Pacifica Foundation and former chair of the National Lawyers Guild Committee on Democratic Communications.

Additional panel members are Tracy Rosenberg, director of Media Alliance Net Neutrality, and Michael Eisenmenger, executive director of the Community Media Center of Marin.

According to the Alameda-based group, a recently issued Federal Communications Commission rule on Internet neutrality may restrict the Internet as a free and open forum and a powerful tool for democracy. In addition, Congress has passed a new law to permit communities to set up low-power FM radio stations.

Refreshments will be offered at 6 p.m., before the forum begins.

For additional information, reach Gretchen or Arthur Lipow, co-chairs of the group at 510-814-9592 or ArtLipow@aol.com


Alameda Group Hosts Economics Talk by Scheer (Part II)


(Note: This is the second blog on journalist and author Robert Scheer’s visit to Alameda; the first blog was published earlier and is still online.)

While speaking to a group of over 50 Alameda residents and visitors at the Alameda Free Library on Saturday, November 13, Robert Scheer explained the President Obama had understood many of the causes of the U.S. economic crisis, which the author explained date back to the Clinton era.

“He nailed it, so why did he bring in Clinton people and people who were getting paid by Wall Street?” Scheer asked.

Scheer argues that the banks and other financial organizations didn’t deserve a bailout. (He pointed out that ex-Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill just bought the Shanel estate in Sonoma County for $31 million, bringing one of Wall Street’s biggest gainers from the period of financial deregulation to the Bay Area.)

Homeowners and consumers deserve both more legal protection and strong government support, he says. The mortgage sellers “were trying to sign as many people as possible,” and they did, he explained.

He labels Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “poverty pimps” in his latest book. “They used the poor and everyone else,” he said in his talk.

At the end of his talk, the journalist opened up the floor to members of the audience and began a discussion of what should be done to address our financial and economic issues. To begin, Scheer says, we should stop home foreclosures.

“We need a consumer’s movement,” he said. Rather than blaming the individual, we should be criticizing and moving to change a system that allows banks to charge interest rates of 38% for credit cards and get away with other unreasonable policiies.

He also thinks that without the power that unions once enjoyed, the interests of the middle class and its allies are being lost in the election debates and media discussions. Also, as wealth has become more and more concentrated at the top, fewer members of society strive to change the system as they move up — including politicians.

Politicians should embrace public financing, he notes. But, in general, the system is rigged against those without the funds to play. “This is not Jeffersonian democracy,” Scheer said.

To fix the broken system, we have to move for tough change, like restoring the separation of trading or investment banking and retail banking, he explains. “But the mainstream media ignores this,” Scheer added.

Fundamentally, Scheer says, it is a matter of “how we talk to people and explaining to them that real change is in their best interest, rather than repeating the same old blabber in the media.”

“Who messed up?” he asked. “Consumers assumed the documents they signed had been vetted,” in other words, had be scrutinized from a legal perspective.

“We can’t let people beat themselves up and buy the narrative that they are the ‘losers,’ ” in this situation. “It was all a scam with no protections in place,” Scheer concluded.


Alameda Group Hosts Economics Talk by Scheer (Part I)


Robert Scheer, editor in chief of Truthdig, spoke on Saturday, November 13, at the Alameda Free Library about the recent financial crisis. The event was organized by Alameda Public Affairs Forum.

Scheer worked for the Los Angeles Times for many years and most recently has written a book entitled “The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street” (Nation Books).

Raised in the Bronx, Scheer was a fellow at the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where he did graduate work in economics and knew Arthur Lipow, one of the organizers of ALameda Public Affairs Forum.

Briefly, Scheer described three factors that led to the real-estate meltdown, market crash and other economic malaise of the past few years: namely deregulation of the telecommuications industry and financial sector (via the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act), as well as welfare reform during President Clinton’s time in office.

Without the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which separated retail and investment banking, the financial institutions in the United States would not have been able to package and sell mortgages as they did over the past 10 years or so, said Scheer.

As people continue to lose there homes, he said, “We’ve accepted the fact that the system enriched a small percent of people while empoverishing many.”

The end of financial deregulation, Scheer explains, came about by the banks arguing that they couldn’t compete globally with such restraints. But President Reagan couldn’t deregulate when they pushed for reforms due to the savings and loan crisis.

Clinton, on the other hand, “was opportunistic … and did a deal with the devil,” the author said.

Another issue that contributed to the crisis was the end of certain laws enforced by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which Bay Area attorney and chairperson Brooksley Born unsuccessfully fought to protect during the Clinton years.

This “opened the floodgates,” Scheer said in his remarks.