OAKLAND -- Celebrate the joy of reading Saturday as the Oakland Public Library celebrates the grand opening of the new Piedmont Avenue Branch Library.

The event will include music, refreshments and entertainment by Mr. SHAP (Super Happenings Always Possible), who combines magic, humor and balloon art to delight families.

There will be welcome remarks by library officials at noon, followed by announcement of winners of the Piedmont Avenue Merchants Association Halloween raffle.

The 1,920-square-foot library branch, which actually opened for service Tuesday, is located on the grounds of Piedmont Avenue Elementary School. It includes two computers with Internet access for the public, a handicapper-accessible public restroom (which the old branch did not have), access compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and heating and air conditioning.

"Library staff have been working with the Friends of the Piedmont Avenue Library for several years to locate a good temporary home for the branch," said Gerry Garzon, associate director of the Oakland Public Library. "The Friends and the community have been supportive as we transition from its location on 41st to the Echo Avenue site on the Piedmont Avenue Elementary School property.

"Our branch manager, Jenera Burton, has worked very hard in preparing for the move, making decisions about the design, furniture, collections and how to fit it all in, and we believe that the community will be very pleased with the result," Garzon said.


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The Piedmont Avenue branch features the largest collection in the East Bay of lesbian, gay and transgender fiction and nonfiction -- about 1,000 contemporary titles, library officials said.

Thousands of juvenile and adult books, DVDs, videos, audio books, CDs, magazines and newspapers are also included in the branch collection.

Jumping into community activities, the Piedmont Avenue Branch Knitting Group will meet at 3 p.m. Saturday at the new branch.

On Wednesday toddler story time will be held at 10:15 a.m. followed by preschool story time at 11 a.m.

The knitting group meets again at 3 p.m. Dec. 8. Toddler and preschool story times will take place again on Dec. 12, at the same times as Wednesday.

The Piedmont Avenue Branch Library, widely used by Piedmont residents, faced uncertain times for three years after the new owner of the building at the old 41st Street location raised the rent from $1 to $4,250 per month.

Library officials met with the community and the Oakland Unified School District, which agreed to rent the site to the Oakland Public Library for a reduced amount. The new location is a "medium term" solution to meet the community's needs while long-term solutions are pursued.

The festive grand opening will coincide with the Piedmont Avenue Stroll and tree lighting ceremony, where visitors are encouraged to linger and enjoy the many shops offering refreshments and holiday specials. Most shops will be open until 7 or 8 p.m. The tree lighting will be at 5 p.m. at Key Route Plaza by the clock tower.

IF YOU GO
What: Grand opening of the Piedmont Avenue Branch Library
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: 80 Echo Ave., Oakland
Information: www.oaklandlibrary.org