Re-imagine the Oakland Main Library

The City of Oakland and the Oakland Public Library are embarking upon an effort to study options for the renovation, redevelopment or relocation of the Oakland Main Library on 14th Street.

Oakland residents of all ages and from all parts of the city are invited and encouraged to re-imagine the educational and social experience at Main Library Branch through their participation in the Oakland Main Library Feasibility Study.

Working closely with two community-focused architectural and planning partners, EHDD and blinkLAB! architecture, residents and all users of the library will be embraced in sharing their voices in shaping the vision of how the Main Library can reflect and serve residents from across the city. Now is your time to participate in the process, and to activate your community!

Community workshop- Thursday, June 13th at East Oakland Boxing Association
Community workshop- Thursday, June 13th at East Oakland Boxing Association

The Feasibility Study team is preparing for our first Community Workshop on July 13th at the East Oakland Boxing Association in East Oakland. Along with an overview of the feasibility study, an explanation of why we’re doing it, and the goals for the project, we’ll be gathering valuable input on the programs and services that residents would like to see at the library.

This workshop, and the feasibility study will serve as a way for the community to organize and build power around a collective vision.

We will be conducting an interactive exercise around “The Main Library Experience” prompted by a series of questions. We want to know:

  • How can we create an experience at the Main Library so that it represents Oakland’s authentic identity?

  • How do you want to feel when you walk into the library?

  • How can you find and/or support your tribe?

  • What are some of the reasons you don't use the library and what would make you use the library more?

We will also have a video station where participants can leave their responses to the question, “That would be cool if…”

This will be super fun and allow you to get to know your community members better.


Click here to sign up for updates.

OML Storytelling Workshop - August 5
OML Storytelling Workshop - August 5

Join us for our storytelling workshop! August 5!

Participants creating their own narrative
Participants creating their own narrative

Join us for the Oakland Main Library Storytelling Workshop, an effort to build an authentic narrative in support of a re-imagined Oakland Main Library. Sharing your stories and experiences will inspire and shape the design and programming of the future facility.

The 3-hour workshop has two highly interactive segments. In the first, participants will become familiar with the four main components of a story - Story, Audience, Message and Style (SAMS). Keith Battle from BAVC Media will lead the discussion and together we will analyze a few short videos on the impact and importance of branch libraries using the SAMS rubric. In the second half, participants will join small break-out groups led by a professional local filmmaker and generate unique storylines or simple storyboards using the SAMS rubric about what a new Branch Library means to you and your community. There will be a short 30-minute break for a catered lunch between the first and second parts of the workshop.

Your storylines will inform the filmmaking team about potential interview questions for the upcoming micro-videos produced as part of the feasibility study.

Sign up for updates and registration information


Advisory Committee Feature

In our upcoming newsletters we’ll be featuring some of the groups represented on our Advisory Committee. Hidden Gem and Omnira Institute are two of the organizations providing valuable insights from the constituents that they serve.

Hidden Gem Project

Hidden Gem Youth Media Art Program Participants
Hidden Gem Youth Media Art Program Participants

Founded in Oakland by a group of independent Black & Brown media professionals and social justice artists who wanted to support displaced youth, Hidden Gem provides a safe space to nurture the next generation of media artists. Over the years they have partnered with organizations around the Bay Area to create innovative content for media campaigns, and designed and implemented strategic educational programs to advance underrepresented artists.

Hidden Gem’s Career Pathways Program recruits and trains visual artists in the professional skills necessary to compete in the media industry. Upon completion of their program, the organization provides the young artists with paid contracts, entry-level job placements, externships and access to post-secondary academic programs.

Omnira Institute

Omnira Institute project

Omnira Institute began in 2003 as a school for sacred knowledge for children of practitioners of spiritual traditions derived from West Africa by way of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. The organization’s choir, Awon Ohun Omnira (Voices of Freedom) participates in annual Juneteenth and Black History Month celebrations.

We had our first Oakland Main Library Feasibility Study Advisory Committee meeting and got some really helpful information about a shared vision for a re-imagined Oakland Main Library. We were fortunate to have representatives from the City of Oakland and Oakland Unified School District, along with members affiliated with incredible organizations like Hidden Gem Project, Omnira Institute, MOCHA, Black Cultural Zone, Eastside Arts Alliance, YR Media, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, and the Huey P. Newton Foundation.

The Advisory Committee will continue to meet over the course of the Feasibility Study and we will continue to gather input from residents from across Oakland at Community Workshops, Storytelling Workshops, Street Labs, surveys and direct contact. Please stay tuned and make sure you sign up for updates on upcoming events and engagement activities.

Community Advisory Committee Announcement


Are you interested in being a part of the planning process for improving the Main Library? Starting this Summer, we will kick off a robust and comprehensive community engagement process including input from Oaklanders from all parts of the city to build a new and exciting vision! This process includes the creation of a Community Advisory Committee (AC) and we would be honored if you would agree to participate. The Committee will be composed of library advocates from many interest groups, neighborhoods, demographics, and ages, and we believe it will be an incredible opportunity to build a common vision for a foundational community asset. Through this process we will learn how the Main Library can best support the educational and social needs of everyone we serve and how to re-imagine it as a world-class example for the entire OPL system? We will review the conditions at the existing Main Library and work with the community to determine how the new vision can be realized.

Advisory Committee Roles and Responsibilities

The Advisory Committee will be composed of 20-30 members who will share their opinions and perspectives, study issues, and advise the Project Lead Team, which is composed of members from Oakland Public Library, Oakland Public Works, and two community-focused architectural and planning partners, EHDD and blinkLab! architecture. The Advisory Committee will also interact with the community engagement team from RBA Creative, storytellers from the San Francisco Urban Film Festival, and youth specialist Jeremiah Tolbert.

The Advisory Committee members are asked to:

  • Participate in (4) 90-minute meetings between June 2023 and February 2024
  • Engage and be available for specific questions about their areas of expertise as needed
  • Participate in stakeholder meetings of interest to their vision
  • Stipends available for non-professional members of the committee; inquire for more information
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