Chess at the Library. A weekly chess program offers instruction for beginners and a place for patrons of all ages and levels to play with each other. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. César E. Chávez Branch, 3301 E. 12th St., Oakland. 510-535-5620,

Off the Hook Knitting Group. The Melrose Knitting Group meets the second and fourth Saturday every month. 3 to 5 p.m. Melrose Branch Library, 4805 Foothill Blvd., Oakland. 510-535-5623,

Become a Natural Sciences Docent. Learn more about what's involved in becoming a natural sciences docent by talking to current docents and museum staff about the unique training course which starts in March. Refreshments provided. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 2. Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland., 510-318-8470,

Intro to Genealogy. Trace your family history at a free Introduction to Genealogy class at Northern California's premier genealogy society library. Taught by Kim Cotton. 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 2. California Genealogical Society and Library, 2201 Broadway, Oakland. Free. 510-663-1358,


Public Blood Drive. The American Red Cross holds a public blood drive. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 7. Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay St., Oakland. 800-733-2767,

LWV Piedmont Election Forum: School Parcel Tax. The League of Women Voters of Piedmont host an election forum in advance of the March 5 special election. The community is cordially invited to attend and learn more about Measure A, the school parcel tax. 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. Feb. 7. City Hall, 120 Vista Ave., Piedmont. Free

Home Organization 101. Handygal Pamela Consear leads a free workshop to help people organize so they may be less cluttered and more creative or bring more creativity into their lives. 6 p.m. Feb. 8. Laurel Book Store, 4100 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. 510-531-2073,

Native Plants in a California Garden. Master Gardener Rebecca Schoenenberger shares her experience designing, installing and maintaining California native plant gardens at this talk about easy-to-grow native plants for the home garden. 2 to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 9. Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Library, 6833 International Blvd., Oakland. Free. 408-282-3105,

Author J. Douglas Allen-Taylor. A reading with J. Douglas Allen-Taylor and his novel "Sugaree Rising," set in the South Carolina coastal area Lowcountry in the late Depression years. 6 p.m. Feb. 9. Laurel Book Store, 4100 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. 510-531-2073,

Author Ishmael Reed. "Going Too Far: Essays About America's Nervous Breadown," a reading and book signing by legendary and outspoken author, Ishmael Reed. 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 9. Marcus Books, 3900 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland. Free. 510-652-2344.

All About Snakes. Local historian Ernest Chann addresses the Year of the Snake and what it will portend, and shares Chinese folk tales featuring snakes. 1:30 p.m. Feb. 16. Asian Library, 388 Ninth St., Oakland. 510-238-3400.

Superior Court Volunteers Needed. Alameda County Superior Court needs eager volunteers to support the information kiosks in the Oakland, Hayward, and Fremont courthouses. Training provided. Call for details 510-891-6921 or