Oakland Public Library children’s services capture interest of nation’s library leaders: 2020 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate finalists to perform

For Immediate Release
Thu, 08/06/2020


Shawnda Hines

Assistant Director, Communications

Public Policy and Advocacy


CHICAGO - On Friday, Aug. 7, at 12:30 p.m. PDT (2:30 p.m. CDT), American Library Association (ALA) President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., will pay a virtual visit to the Oakland Public Library, in Oakland, California, to explore the library’s services for families and children. The virtual event, Listen to the Kids: Youth – and Family – Centered Practices at Oakland Public Library, is free and open to the public, with registration. A conversation with and performances by Oakland Youth Poet Laureate finalists will follow interviews with library staff.

Oakland Public Library offers an array of programs and services for children and families that honor the input of all stakeholders, adjust to meet areas of greatest need, reflect evidence-based practices, and leverage partnerships to deepen connections within the community. Jefferson will host a series of interviews with members of the team that creates and implements Oakland Public Library children’s programs.

Oakland Public Library 

  • Mahasin Aleem, children’s collection management librarian 
  • Reginald “R.B.” Burnette, 81st Avenue Branch library aide 
  • Manuel “Manny” Hernandez, outreach library assistant 
  • Miriam Medow, Dimond Branch children’s librarian 
  • Sharon McKellar, supervising librarian teen services
  • Anthony Propernick, senior library assistant outreach 
  • Peggy Simmons, teen services library assistant and Oakland Youth Poet Laureate coordinator 
  • Jason Wilkinson, security guard and youth mentor 

Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Program

  • Greer Nakadegawa-Lee, 2020 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate
  • Chiana Griswa 2020 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate finalist
  • Hunter Jackon, 2020 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate finalist
  • Samuel Getachew, 2019 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate

“Oakland Public Library and libraries across California are improving lives every day, empowering students as they develop literacy skills that will lead to lifelong learning,” said Jefferson. “Many of these successes take place in the shadows. Their stories need to be told, their professional organization and local community need to listen, and their elected leaders need to support them.”

Oakland Public Library is eleventh on Jefferson’s 12-stop virtual tour, Holding Space: A national conversation series with libraries, to spotlight how libraries of all kinds across the country are addressing the needs of their diverse communities and engaging stakeholders to advocate for libraries. At each stop of the 10-day tour, Jefferson will hold community discussions exploring local and national solutions to local and national issues addressed by libraries, such as children and family services, workforce development programs, outreach to rural residents, and broadband for rural and Tribal communities. 

Throughout the tour, Jefferson will also invite participants to join ALA advocates, who are currently supporting the Library Stabilization Fund Act to provide federal resources to libraries during the COVID pandemic.  

For more information on tour stops and how to join, visit ala.org/advocacy/holding-space. To speak with ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., or other library leaders/advocates, contact: 

  • Shawnda Hines, assistant director, communications, ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office, at (202) 628-8410 ext. 8208 or shines@alawash.org
  • Macey Morales, deputy director, ALA Communications and Marketing Office, at (312) 280-4393 or mmorales@ala.org
  • Steve Zalusky, Communications Specialist, ALA Communications and Marketing Office, at (312) 280-1546 or szalusky@ala.org

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library's role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.