More than 100 people passed through the library last Saturday to take part in the celebration, although as Oakley Union Elementary School District Superintendent Rick Rogers pointed out, most of the crowd came to see the magic show performed by Antioch-based magician Gerald Joseph, who wowed the crowd with card tricks and mind reading.
“It’s not a huge surprise that public officials don’t draw the same crowd as a magician,” Rogers said during the parade of speeches from a collection of Oakley’s top officials, which included Vice Mayor Pat Anderson and City Manager Bryan Montgomery.
However, it’s shows like Joseph’s that have made the Oakley Library such a popular place for families to gather. Libraries are more than shelters for books; they are houses of knowledge where people can gather for book discussions or sit in on a scrapbooking workshop. Most of all, libraries are safe havens for community youth, and according to Rogers, the Oakley Library is no exception.
Freedom High School Principal Erik Faulkner told the crowd about how much the library has meant to his students and how the library has held a special place in his own family’s heart as well, noting that his kids participate in the summer reading program and come in to participate in programs and events on a regular basis.
Over the years, the Oakley Library has hosted a variety of programs and activities for people of all ages. From story times with Clifford the Big Red Dog to dance classes, the library has been a place for children young and old to explore their imaginations and have fun while learning at the same time.
The East Bay Regional Park District hosts programs at the Oakley Library, and Docent Coordinator Mike Moran said it has been a pleasure coming to the library over the years and watching the community grow along with the library.
“Kids that were here that first year have gone on to graduate from college and come back to share how they remember these programs and how they fell in love with learning within these walls,” Moran said. “That’s what’s special about libraries.”
Contra Costa County Librarian Anne Cain said more people are turning to libraries to check out reading materials since it’s cheaper than buying books, and the people of Oakley are reading more than ever these days. While circulation is up 9 percent throughout the county, circulation is up 15 percent in Oakley.
Because the library is such an integral part of the Oakley community, the City Council recently voted to contribute the funds needed to keep the library open 41 hours a week now that the county funds only 35 hours due to budget cuts.
For more information about the Oakley Library and its programs, call 925-625-2400 or visit www.ccclib.org/locations/oakley.html.