Report from Oakland Public Library

The U.S IMPACT Study research team visited the Oakland Public Library from April 27 through May 2, 2009. The Oakland Public Library has 18 branch libraries and, with the help of their dedicated staff, we were able visit the Eastmont, Asian, Cesar Chavez, and Rockridge branches. The main library, as well as all branches, offers free access to computers and the internet. Additionally, free wireless is available — 24 hours a day, seven days a week — to anyone in or near the library. No library cards or passwords are required, thereby allowing more people

to access this service. Basic computer classes are offered for free at the Cesar Chavez and the Asian branches. To accommodate all library patrons, classes are taught in Spanish and English at Cesar Chavez and Chinese and Korean at the Asian branch. The classes are quite popular as they help immigrants, both young and old, to learn about computers — a skill that is frequently needed for employment. Furthermore, they help immigrant families remain connected through email, as well as providing them with the opportunity to stay current with news and events in their home countries. The main library recently opened a Teen Zone, featuring twelve brand-new, big-screen iMacs. These computers offer different software than the PCs in other parts of the library. Music and other audio-visual media products are available, which foster creativity. The free computers and internet services available at the Oakland Public Library are valued by library patrons. In addition to providing an important destination for those who want to get out of the house or find a quiet place to work, the Oakland Public Library allows patrons to search for and apply to jobs, shop, seek health information, search for government information, and stay in touch with family and friends.