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!


Stay tuned for the Oakland Main Library Survey!

We have received over 400 survey responses on our way to a goal of 500! Your responses will help the Feasibility Study team better understand the community’s vision for a re-imagined Oakland Main Library Branch.

The survey will only take a few minutes and the information collected in the survey will include feedback on programs and services, the physical attributes of the current facility, and your visions for a new Oakland Main Library Branch.

Join the challenge!!!
Join the challenge!!!
Person poses in front of the "that would be cool if..." banner
Person poses in front of the "that would be cool if..." banner

We want to hear about your wildest dreams for a re-imagined Oakland Main Library branch! In less than 15 seconds, respond to the prompt “That Would Be Cool If…” You can tell us what you would like to see, what you would like to do, what kind of programs and services- WHATEVER!! Check out what people are saying!!

You can record a video on your phone, or if you want to be fancy, download our OPL Zoom background HERE and record it on Zoom. You can then send it to us, share it on Facebook and Instagram, and tag @oaklibrary with the hashtag #newoaklandmain!


Workshop participant holds up a printed item with sticky notes attached to it.

The Oakland Main Library Community Workshop #2 Workshop was held at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center in Chinatown. We had a great turnout and our participants made some great contributions about their inspirations for the design and programming of the future facility.

We always like to support local businesses, so we had banh mi sandwiches from Cam Hong across the street, and noodles from the historic Shan Dong! We also did an interactive exercise with the participants that visualized their idea of a Main Library that really served the people and represented the spirit of Oakland! Please join us at an upcoming events and share the news. You can sign up for updates on future events here!


Workshop Participants
Workshop Participants

Oakland has so many outstanding community-based organizations and we want to leverage the networks of those groups to spread the word about the Oakland Main Library Feasibility Study, and the opportunities to share your input. We are currently asking organizations that love the library and want to play a role in planning for the future to help us reach your communities. We want to partner with you to craft a message that will be most effective in reaching the broadest range of stakeholders, with a particular focus on historically hard-to-reach residents including limited English-speaking populations and lower-income communities. It may be your newsletter, an event, or some other opportunity to reach out to the community.

If your organization would like to participate, or you know others who would be great partners, share the information and drop us a line at with the subject line: We Love the Oakland Main!


Participants creating their own narrative

The Oakland Main Library Storytelling Workshop was held at the Main Library Community room to help build an authentic narrative in support of a re-imagined Oakland Main Library. Participants learned about the storytelling process and shared stories and experiences that will be used to inspire and shape the design and programming of the future facility.

The 3-hour workshop had two highly interactive segments. In the first hour, participants became familiar with the four main components of a story - Story, Audience, Message, and Style (SAMS). Keith Battle from BAVC Media led the discussion and together the group analyzed a few short videos on the impact and importance of branch libraries using the SAMS rubric. In the second half, participants joined small break-out groups led by a professional local filmmaker and generated unique storylines or simple storyboards using the SAMS rubric about what a new Branch Library would mean to the community.

Sign up for updates on future events

Oakland Main Library Community Workshop #1
Oakland Main Library Community Workshop #1

The Feasibility Study team hosted our first Community Workshop on July 13th at the East Oakland Boxing Association, which was an incredible host! The event was super fun and allowed us to get to know the community members better. The Director, Tonya Allen shared EOBA’s work being done to improve the lives of young people, and the workshop participants were enthusiastic about sharing their vision for a re-imagined Oakland Main. The community workshops and the feasibility study serve as a way to organize and build power around a collective vision. We conducted an interactive design exercise, “The Main Library Experience”, where we responded to prompts with themes that addressed the prompts, followed by words that addressed the themes, then we used the themes and words to illustrate images in a frame that we displayed in a gallery walk.

Questions included:

  • 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 the people you feel most comfortable with?

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

Our Feasibility Team partners from the San Francisco Urban Film Festival conducted interviews with several of the participants, which will be used throughout the campaign to envision a new Main Library. We also recorded videos where participants responded to the question, “That would be cool if…” You can record your own response on Zoom with an OPL Zoom background by downloading HERE. Respond to the prompt, send us a copy, and share it on social media!

Visit the Oakland Main Feasibility Study site for more information and to sign up for updates. Share with your family friends and neighbors! You can follow us on instagram and Facebook @oaklibrary!


On July 26th and 27th, we held our second meeting of the Advisory Committee, which was a working meeting to follow up the introductory meeting in June. We held the meetings in a hybrid format, with Committee members able to attend in-person or virtual at RBA Creative in the Laurel District. Again, we got more really helpful information about a shared vision for a re-imagined Oakland Main Library and more input from young people.

The next Advisory Committee meeting will be in a couple of months. In the meantime, the members have been invited to participate in upcoming engagement activities and work together to do a deep dive into the work of the Feasibility Study.

Advisory Committee Features

Village Connect and Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corp. have been incredible partners, helping the feasibility study team engage young people in the process. We were able to recruit young voices for the Advisory Committee, but also to participate in community activities. Our goal is to have the young people organize a specific campaign to organize young people and hold a specific convening where they can

Village Connect

Village Connect

Village Connect’s mission is to build the capacity of people to become more self-aware and self-directed resulting in sustainable positive transformation for all. They work across the East Bay with deep ties in Oakland. Village Connect’s programs, services, and initiatives are aimed at developing a mindset to improve the lives of not only the individual, but their families, and their communities. Village Connect’s Community Impact Program Coordinator Micheal Tarkington not only coordinated the youth involvement, but also participated in multiple community workshops, as did Shekinah Taylor, an Oakland Resident attending Howard University who has been incredible in her engagement with both the Main Library and the Hoover Branch.

Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corp.

High Ground Community Development Corporation

Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corp. was founded by a motivated group of dedicated teachers, principals, licensed mental health therapists, and community school experts in 2002 as one of Oakland’s first organizations to use a Community Schools Model. They partner with local community-based organizations to support the OUSD Community School Concept. Every year, Higher Ground participates and facilitates local events, fundraisers, field trips, workforce opportunities, and as a lead service agency. Founder Amber Blackwell has been great in engaging young people in the program and was able to recruit youth participants Jamiyah Knight and Deshawn Lewis for the Advisory Committee where their voice has been extremely helpful.

Previous Featured Organizations

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.

Community Advisory Committee Roles and Responsibilities


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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Oakland Public Library Feasibility Study

The City of Oakland, Oakland Public Library, and two community-focused architectural and planning consultants will be working closely with Oakland residents of all ages and from all parts of the city to re-imagine the educational and social experience at two public library branches: the Oakland Main and a new Hoover library as Oakland envisions the future of our Library system!

Everyone has a voice in shaping the vision for how these library branches reflect and serve their neighborhood, the library system, and the entire city of Oakland. Please participate in the process, share your thoughts, and activate your communities!