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Traveling Books: Bookmark re-donates to Community Organizations

The Friends of OPL’s Bookmark Bookstore has been operating in Old Oakland for over 30 years, raising funds for grants to the Oakland Public Library. The Friends are grateful for a continuous supply of donated books from our members and the public. Books that don’t find a buyer at the Bookmark may be re-donated to local organizations that are able to place books into the hands of readers.

One of these organizations is the Prisoners Literature Project, a Berkeley-based nonprofit whose purpose is “to encourage reading, the pursuit of knowledge, and self-determination among incarcerated people.” The Bookmark sets aside paperback titles in needed categories-- social justice, ethnic studies, history, how-to, science and sociology--for pick-up by a Prisoners Literature Project volunteer. The Project has been a re-donation partner of the Bookmark for more than 10 years.

Most Oakland Public Library branches have a branch friends group. Many of these groups raise funds to support individual branches by hosting book sales. The Bookmark supports these efforts through its re-donation program. For example, books culled from the Bookmark’s fiction shelves (to make room for new arrivals) are boxed for pick-up by Friends of Elmhurst Library volunteers. The Bookmark has similar arrangements with the Friends of Lakeview, West Oakland and Cesar Chavez branches.

All Aboard!...with a book. Several years ago, a station agent at the Jack London Square Amtrak station created a kiosk inside the train station with a selection of fiction and non-fiction available to travelers for free. A second Amtrak kiosk was opened in at the Emeryville station. Stickers placed in each book identify the Friends of OPL as the sponsor of the collection. The Bookmark team was happy to receive a note from an Amtrak commuter: “I appreciate the book selection at the Emeryville Amtrak. Whoever is maintaining those shelves does a wonderful job! I am so grateful to be able to grab a book to take on the hour plus ride home.”

Other organizations that have benefited from the program include Community Education Partners, Oakland Leaf, Roots Community Health Center, Better Neighborhoods - Same Neighbors, LifeLong Medical Care, and St. Mary’s Senior Center.

Bookmark co-manager, Sven-Eric Geddes, and store volunteers keep this project going so that excess inventory makes its way into the hands of readers while supporting community organizations. Visit the Friends’ recently updated website for more information about the Bookmark and volunteer opportunities.


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