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Pleasant Hill Library Teen Advisory Group invites community to World Party on July 20

Families and area residents of all ages are invited to a communitywide party from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, July 20 at the Pleasant Hill library that will celebrate world cultures with fun activities.

The Pleasant Hill Library’s Teen Advisory Group is organizing the event, called “World Party — a multiethnic extravaganza.” Then on Sunday, the Contra Costa County Library System will celebrate it 100th anniversary during a separate community party.

Natalie Hill, a 16-year-old College Park High School junior, was busy preparing for the World Party along with three other members of the teen group earlier this week. Natalie, who is president of the teen group, said she got the idea for the World Party from a multicultural rally at College Park High earlier this year. She and other students in the group decided it would give them a way to celebrate their own diversity, she said.

“Our goal is to basically educate patrons who come in through fun activities and food,” she said. “It’s going to be super awesome, so everyone should come!”

The party will include art, dancing, food and games, Natalie said. She and her friend Dean Shim were creating signs to hang in the library on Thursday, while Pleasant Hill Middle School eighth-grader Alanna Dangerfield was making decorations along with Abhinav Singh, a Valley View Middle School eighth-grader.

Alanna, 13, was making “papel picado,” which means “cut paper.” She was cutting a butterfly design in colorful tissue paper, which could be folded and hung on string or used to decorate booths at the event.
Abhinav, who is also 13, was creating “rangoli” designs from India on paper window hangers. These floral designs are typically created during the Indian holiday called Diwali, he said.

“It’s supposed to make your home have good luck,” Abhinav said. “It can be made with white flour, rice or chalk. But, we’re doing it with paper, because we don’t want it to be messy.”

The World Party will also include traditional Japanese dancing, origami, Farsi calligraphy, Mexican arts and crafts, Irish soda bread and Hindu bread, Natalie said. To make visitors feel like they are traveling around the world, the teens were also making airplane decorations.

Both Veronica and Abhinav said they have been members of the teen group since it started two years ago. Natalie also joined the group at that time, after moving to Pleasant Hill from Southern California.

“I’ve always enjoyed going to the library since I was a kid,” Natalie said. “The teen advisory group is a really great way for teens to learn leadership skills and to work together as a team. We all have the same love for the library, so it’s a really great group to be in.”

About 20 middle and high school students are in the group. Dean, who is now a college student, was also in the group during high school.

“I just like them so much because we all share that passion with the library,” Natalie said. “It’s not like school, where you feel pressured by other people. It’s a very free experience, so that’s what I really like about it.”

Natalie said the group includes a lot of middle school students, in part because the library is close to Pleasant Hill Middle School.

“The teen advisory group gives them a way to be creative and work toward something together,” Natalie said. “It’s really cool.”

Natalie said she has always appreciated libraries because they provide a place where everyone can feel safe in a free learning environment. In fact, she loves libraries so much that she said she’d like to become a librarian after she graduates from college.

Both Natalie and Dean have been selected by the library to be interviewed by the national StoryCorps program about how the library has impacted their lives. Alanna’s mother, Veronica Dangerfield, is also participating in the program along with library Commissioner Katherine Bracken.

An article about the StoryCorps program should be published in this newspaper on Tuesday. You can see video of Natalie talking about the World Party here: And here is a video of Natalie talking about the library:

To weigh in on a survey to help shape the county library’s strategic plan, visit

What do you value about your local library?

Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2013
Under: Contra Costa County, Education, libraries | 3 Comments »

School librarians decry budget cuts

Foothill Middle School librarian Diana Conner

Foothill Middle School librarian Diana Conner

By Theresa Harrington
Foothill Middle School librarian Diana Conner works three days a week at the Walnut Creek school and two days a week at Valley View Middle School in Pleasant Hill. She works one more day at Foothill because the parents’ club there raised $17,000 to keep the library open for students all week.
A library aide staff the facility from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the days when Conner isn’t there.
“I only wish our state lawmakers held the same priorities as the people they represent and invested in our schools and our state’s future,” she said at a news conference in the library today.
Linda Mayo, vice president of the California state PTA and a Mt. Diablo school board trustee, said budget cuts have caused school libraries to close throughout the state.
“Many school libraries in California haven’t been as fortunate as Foothill Middle School,” she said.
Parent Rebecca D’Lima said Conner turned her son onto reading. Click here to see a video of her comments: Foothill Middle School
Other middle schools in the district must get by with librarians only two days a week, said librarian Jo Carson, who works at two middle schools two days a week each: Oak Grove Middle School in Concord and Pleasant Hill Middle School.
“The issue is equity,” she said. “This is the first year in my 15 years of working in libraries that we have had to ration our time.”
She said one teacher who wanted students to start a research project in February was not able to get time in the library until last week.
“I came to this profession because I love kids, schools and libraries,” she said. “But, right now, I’m concerned I am no longer having a measurable effect and that makes me very sad and very angry.”
In the Castro Valley Unifed School District, only one credentialed librarian remains — at the high school, said Phyllis Libbe, a library instructional assistant. All the elementary libraries are run by assistants, she said.
But library assistants do not have the same level of expertise as librarians, the speakers said. Librarians teach students how to find information and stock their facilities with books that support the curriculum, they said.
Chris Evans, a librarian at East Side Union High in San Jose, said his district has also drastically cut librarian hours.
“Our job is to help the teachers,” he said. “The library is everyone’s classroom.”

Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
Under: Education, libraries, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington, Walnut Creek | 1 Comment »