January 31, 2006 > Fremont Main Library
Fremont Main Library
by Arathi Satish
Fremont has the largest and one of the busiest libraries in the Bay Area boasting the highest circulation of all Alameda County libraries. Alameda County Library Administration also occupies part of the building.
Over 2,000 people visit this library daily and check out up to 600 items per hour. Library manager Angela Yang says, "The Fremont Library is the cultural, educational and informational center for our multicultural community."
Established in 1910, the Alameda County Library is a department of county government funded by property tax related revenues that support staff, materials and equipment. The city and community provide the library facility and funds for special projects and/or additional open hours. Funding sources and grants make it possible for the library to provide a Bookmobile service, the Adult Literacy program, Jail Services and a Senior Outreach service.
The spacious Fremont Main Library contains over 300,000 books. In addition to books in English and 16 other languages, DVD's, CD's, books-on-tape, and books-on-CD, the library has great online resources available 24 hours, seven days a week. The online resources cover areas from A to Z, for all age groups. E-books and audio books are also available from the library website that can be downloaded to your computer. An audio book can even be downloaded and burned on a CD for portability - in your car or wherever! All you need is a library card, available at no cost, to log on to that section of the website.
The 97,000 sq. ft. building was opened in 1989, designed by San Francisco architects Simon Martin and Vegue Winkelstein. Artist Larry Kirkland's hanging sculpture "Dream Voyage" is on permanent display with the quotation "Opening a book is an invitation to take a wonderful and private journey; to explore our singular place in the universe."
Special features of the Fremont Main Library are truly impressive including the Fukaya Public Meeting Room, named for Fremont's Sister City in Japan, Storytime amphitheater, more than 40 public Internet stations available for free, computers and typewriters, meeting and study rooms, display cases and bulletin boards, a map and atlas room, books and videos in many international languages, instruction on English for non-native speakers, sunny reading alcoves, used book sales, and programs for children, teens, adults and seniors.
The Fremont Main Library is open to anyone who lives, works, or attends school in California. Fremont Friends of the Library is an active volunteer group that raises money to support library collections and programs. They raise additional funds through book sales held three times a year. Fremont Library Advisory Commission advises the city council and county librarian on facilities and services available in Fremont. Recently, the Fremont Cultural Arts Council donated books of art and music to the children's library.
The library provides unique services and collections. The children's collection contains interesting material - books, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, magazines - for children from birth through eighth grade, even books in Braille and large type. Books in wide variety of languages are available too. Internet stations in the kid's area are filtered for offensive material. The library offers Preschool Storytime several times each year to introduce 3 to 5 year-olds to the joys of reading, listening to stories in a group and visiting the library.
Teachers can advise the Children's Services staff about current assignments so assistance can be provided by borrowing relevant materials from other branches, making them available to students for reference. Yang pointed out that 51 percent of materials checked out are by children. In order to welcome new teachers to the district and make them aware of the resources, she introduced the concept of "Tea for Teachers," held every September for new teachers. They receive a relevant book and a 30-minute presentation on library resources. Workshops are also held at various schools.
Summer reading programs are very popular and cater to young listeners as well as readers. Alameda County Library Foundation, Round Table Pizza and local Friends of the Library groups sponsor these programs. The Kid Power program, for junior high school students, provides an opportunity to help others develop reading skills through an exciting reading game.
Library services have expanded to encompass a vast array of offerings. A large collection of books, newspaper clippings, documents, brochures, and photographs focuses on the history of the Tri-City area while in another area, an impressive Business Section awaits visitors. Bookleggers train volunteers to introduce books to children in Fremont's 33 public elementary and junior high schools through booktalks and storytelling. Patrons can also make use of the LINK+ program, a book request service that allows visitors to borrow books from other public and academic libraries, also available online. Other online services include legal information on the web, a teen/senior web connection, how to speak English with Rosetta Stone, and various math websites recommended by the librarian.
The mainstay of the library is volunteers and the library is in constant need. Those interested can get involved in a number of important areas including taking books to people who are homebound through the Homeword Bound program, Internet docents, library tour guides and more.
For more information, visit Fremont Main Library located at 2400 Stevenson Blvd., online at www.aclibrary.org or call (510) 745-1400.