librarian Yvonne Camm OHR 14

The North Oakland Branch Library was a small branch library on San Pablo Ave., near the California Hotel. Beginning in 1966, it was known as the Jack London Branch Library. Before it was a branch library, it was a reading room.

Reading Room

The reading room dated back to 1887, when the Free Library Trustees met in January 1887 and determined a reading room should be opened in North Oakland. 6 Miss Emma C. Sutherland was the first curator; it appears the reading room used rooms in the Sutherland home at 2202 Peralta at 34th. (NB: Southard is a typo.) 5,7 The 1889 directory lists the North Oakland Free Reading Room at the corner of 34th and Peralta.

March 2, 1887 71889-1890 directory 51902 Sanborn excerpt

In 1892, the North Oakland Reading Room and the 23rd Avenue Reading Room were closed for lack of money. 10 Protests were made, and the library trustees agreed that if the city council would give them additional money, they would keep the reading rooms open. 11

Around 1895, the reading room was moved to 2203 Adeline, a few blocks away (NB: after a c.1906 renumbering, 2203 was renumbered as 3401 Adeline.) Much to the annoyance of some, it was on a side street, and it was upstairs! 8 An 1897 article describes it as "the smallest of the reading rooms", occupying the two front rooms up an upper flat at 34th St. and Adeline. 12

1902 Sanborn excerpt  1912 Sanborn excerpt
showing new address, but same building

Branch Library

Renee Browne, Sharon Boyd, Gregory Hewitt, Quincy Jett in 1968 18

The branch library opened in 1909 at 2022 San Pablo Ave. 19 After a renumbering, 2022 became 3424 San Pablo Ave. In the 1913 directory, it lists Alice Armstrong as the librarian, and Katherine Gray the assistant. 9

In January 1920 the branch went from half-time to full time because of increased circulation. 1

In October 1965, the library suffered $10,000 in damage from a fire at the California Auto Parts Co. next door. 2 Ironically, it had just re-opened in September 1965 after remodeling. 3

1912 Sanborn excerpt1951 Sanborn excerpt

In 1966, it moved to 3140 San Pablo; 17 in 1968 it moved to 3134 San Pablo Ave. 18 Until 1971, the branch was known as the Jack London Branch Library, when the name was reverted to avoid confusion with the Jack London Room at the Main Library. The book Urban Outcomes in 1974 noted that all users of the branch lived within six-tenths of a mile of it. This suggested poorer, less mobile users, as compared with the Piedmont Ave. branch which drew users from up to 3 miles away. 15

The branch finally closed in July 1981. A 2006 plan from the Oakland Public Library pointed out the need for a library in the area, particularly after the closure of Foster Elementary School. In 2018, a plan for new Hoover-Foster Library had strong support from many area residents. 13

1916 4

Links and References

  1. Police Appeal Again Deferred Oakland Tribune January 28, 1920
  2. Pre-Dawn Fire Lights City Skies Oakland Tribune October 25, 1965
  3. Branch Library Reopens Friday Oakland Tribune September 16, 1965
  4. News Notes of California Libraries Volume 11 - 1916
  5. Husted's Oakland 1889-1890
  6. For the Watts Tract: Free Reading-Room to be Established There Oakland Tribune January 10, 1887
  7. The Public Library Oakland Tribune March 2, 1887
  8. North Enders Are After a Park Oakland Tribune April 27, 1899
  9. Polk-Husted Oakland 1913 Directory
  10. The Library Protest Oakland Tribune October 11, 1892
  11. Will Open Again Oakland Tribune November 22, 1892
  12. Founts of Wisdom Oakland Tribune March 31, 1897
  13. Hoover-Foster Library Effort Gathers Steam East Bay Express January 10, 2018
  14. Oakland History Room Collections
  15. Urban Outcomes: Schools, Streets and Libraries University of California Press 1974
  16. Letters to the Editor Oakland Tribune July 25, 1967
  17. Food, Boats, Bonhomie At Jack London Square Oakland Tribune November 20, 1966
  18. Lanterns for Dr. King Oakland Tribune April 24, 1968
  19. To Open New Branch of Free Library Oakland Tribune September 7, 1909