Castro Valley Library

Library Plays Matchmaker by Connecting Readers with Great Reads by crselig2014
Thursday, February 14, 2019, 11:46 am
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BookMatchLogoRedSmallAlameda County Library is playing matchmaker this Valentine’s season by matching readers with their next great read!

Book Match, a new program launching on Valentine’s Day, will match Library members with personalized reading recommendations from our Librarians. To participate in Book Match, Library members will fill out a short questionnaire about their reading preferences. Then Librarians will use their expertise to develop customized book lists and connect people with great reads.

Book Match gives our communities a new and personalized way to connect with our Librarians—over a love of books! Library members get to meet our matchmakers through online profiles that highlight their knowledge of genres and favorite reads. They can select a matchmaker or have one chosen for them.

“Librarians are book experts who have our readers’ interests at heart. In a world of algorithms, Book Match adds a human touch. It personalizes reading recommendations and strengthens the connection between readers and libraries,” said Cindy Chadwick, County Librarian.

Library members can use Book Match to find reading recommendations for themselves, their family, or someone else in their lives searching for that next great read.


Castro Valley Reads is back! by crselig2014
Wednesday, January 2, 2019, 11:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Castro Valley Reads is back! Join us for the Kick-Off Event on Sunday, January 27 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Castro Valley Reads seeks to get hundreds of community members to read and discuss the same book to celebrate reading and great literature and to build community through a thoughtful exchange of ideas.

“Our first Castro Valley Reads in 2018 was a great success with more than 400 participants,” said Dawn Balestreri, branch manager. “We hope you’ll join us to grow the program in 2019. What can we learn from each other? What can we learn together? Let’s find out!”

This year’s theme is immigration. A loud and fractious debate about immigrants and refugees has gripped the country recently. Against this backdrop, the Library proposes that we have a quiet, thoughtful conversation about the experiences of immigrants and refugees. Let’s also learn about each other’s backgrounds, celebrate the diversity of our community, and build connections.

Our springboard is the intercontinental refugee and immigration story A Backpack, A Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin. In the twilight of the Cold War, nine-year-old Lev Golinkin and his family cross the Soviet border with only ten suitcases, six hundred dollars, and the vague promise of help waiting in Vienna. Years later, Lev, now an American adult, sets out to retrace his family’s long trek to locate and thank the strangers who fought for his freedom.

Golinkin’s memoir is a thrilling tale of escape and survival and a deeply personal look at the life of a Jewish child caught in the last gasp of the Soviet Union. Written with acerbic wit and emotional honesty, Golinkin’s story speaks of overcoming the power of hatred and searching for acceptance and belonging.

At the Kick-Off you’ll hear a dramatic reading from a local actor, meet new people, sign up for a book discussion, and get a free copy of the book. Plus, you’ll learn how you can get a special invitation to meet Lev Golinkin. The celebration continues throughout February and March with many special Castro Valley Reads programs.

Plus we’re excited to announce a kids-only CV Reads book that explores the same themes for grades 4 to 7 called Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Registration for the children’s program will begin March 1.

If you can’t make the Kick-Off, please come to the Library after January 27 to sign up for a discussion. Free copies of A Backpack, A Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka are available while supplies last.

Castro Valley Reads is generously funded by the Friends of the Castro Valley Library.

Castro Valley Reads 2019 Teaser by crselig2014
Sunday, December 2, 2018, 1:33 pm
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December Teaser

History of the Castro Valley Library by crselig2014
Monday, October 15, 2018, 3:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

BrooderBranchCaliforniaStateLibraryPhoto courtesy of the California State Library.

Special thanks to John Christian of the Hayward Area Historical Society for writing the history of the Castro Valley Library in honor of our 100th anniversary.


For more than 100 years, Castro Valley’s residents have enjoyed access to a free public library. The Library’s exact origins, however, are a little murky. The valley has seen three distinct libraries come and go, before culminating in the construction of today’s Castro Valley Library. In that time, the Castro Valley Library has transformed from a few books in old farm buildings to the grand community space we enjoy today.

The Early Years: Crow Canyon and Castro Hill

The first library was established July 17, 1915, in the home of Mrs. M.J. Alves, somewhere around the entrance to Crow Canyon, and was named the Crow Canyon Branch of the Alameda County Free Library. We do not know where exactly Mrs. Alves home was, but we do know that her small branch had 54 books and 8 registered library cardholders. A brief reference in the Oakland Tribune notes the new Crow Canyon Branch was one of two branches added to the Alameda County library system that year by Mary Barmby, the first county librarian.

The Crow Canyon Branch was short lived, and on August 1, 1916 the branch moved to the home of Kathryn Weaver. This little library was named Castro Hill Branch, in reference to the steep incline along today’s East Castro Valley Boulevard. Apparently Kathryn Weaver’s house was a little bigger, with a reported collection of 200 books and 18 library cardholders, but the Library wouldn’t remain in that location for long.

Sometime in 1918 the library moved to what is commonly thought of as the first Castro Valley Library—a building formerly used for chicken brooding. The “Brooder Branch,” as some called it, belonged to the aptly named Mrs. Emmarene Due. This new incarnation of the Castro Hill Branch grew quickly under Mrs. Due’s direction and included almost 400 books and 64 active patrons.

As successful as the branch was, there was a fair amount of hesitation on the part of Alameda County to approve the opening of a library in a chicken coop. Over time, however, Alameda County grew fond of its quirky little branch. A 1922 Oakland Tribune article titled “Chicken Coops for Libraries” explained:

“Alameda County is the only county in the United States which maintains a county library branch in a chicken coop, where the hens may regale themselves with succulent book titles and the roosters crow over newspapers and periodicals…Supervisors and county library officials were horrified at the suggestion [of using a former chicken coop], but at last consented to look it over…Today the ‘brooder branch’ is one of the most successful and generally used of all the county library branches.”

As the Castro Hill Branch’s reputation grew, so did the number of visitors. Librarians came from across the state to experience the novelty of a library inside a shack—much to the dismay of Mrs. Due who told a reporter years later, “I never thought of it as a shack because we had so many wonderful books.”

The Castro Hill Branch of the Alameda County Library system operated for 47 years—overlapping three years with the next library on Redwood Road. During those 47 years, Mrs. Due worked the circulation desk, petitioned the county for new books, and even started a children’s radio club.

In May 1965, the Castro Hill Branch closed. Less than two years later, Emmarene Due passed away. Today, the Castro Valley Masonic Center occupies the site of the former Castro Hill Branch.

Gertrude Booth and the Tank House Library

The direct descendant of today’s Castro Valley Library dates to 1927. At the time, the Castro Hill Branch mostly served residents living in the valley’s canyons. With no library in the heart of town, residents had few options. Encouraged by the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Mrs. Gertrude Booth decided to petition the county for another library branch.

Following in the footsteps of the brooder branch, Mrs. Booth converted an old tank house on her property for use as a library. Apparently a tank house was more palatable than a chicken coop, as the County did not hesitate and named Mrs. Booth the librarian of the new Valley Branch. Soon the name was changed to the Castro Valley Branch and the modest space opened its doors in August 1927. It was located roughly where the Castro Village Walgreens sits today.

Mrs. Booth’s tank house library was an immediate hit with the community. The new branch had 880 books in its collection including “books of fiction ranging from cream-puff romances to imaginary tales of piratical adventure….” The new space also gave community groups like the PTA a place to meet.

The tank house library served the community well through the depression and World War II. During this time, Castro Valley was still a sleepy, rural community. This changed drastically, however, starting in the late 1940s. Following the war, Castro Valley began its transformation from an agricultural area into the suburban community we know today. Housing tracks were planned and built, and a large influx of residents put new demands on the relatively small library. Library programs reflected the changes. Classes on interior decorating and design, for example, were meant to attract the valley’s new suburban homeowners.

By 1950, the Castro Valley Library had broken its all-time circulation record, lending almost 17,000 books in that fiscal year alone. The Library began opening seven days a week to keep pace with demand. In 1952, an additional wing was opened, but the community kept growing.

By the mid-1950s, the old tank house library stood in sharp contrast to the modernizing community. Once surrounded by open fields, the Library was now surrounded by the Castro Village shopping center and other new developments. The surging population pushed community leaders to seriously consider a new library for Castro Valley.
For Gertrude Booth, the tank house library remained a labor of love. She worked in the library for 32 years until health problems forced her retirement in early 1959. Soon after, Mrs. Booth’s property was sold to the corporation that built the Castro Village. With the destruction of the tank house library approaching, the community had to act quickly to build a new Castro Valley Library.

Gertrude Booth passed away in April 1964, having lived long enough to see the opening of the new Castro Valley Library on Redwood Road.

Castro Valley Library on Redwood Road

The Castro Valley Library on Redwood Road traces its origins back to a meeting in late November 1956. The Castro Valley Recreation Council called a meeting to discuss a proposal to improve library facilities in the valley. The campaign quickly took off with state and local government, advised by the newly established Castro Valley Library Advisory Committee, approving the plans for a new facility.

In September 1958, Alameda County purchased the Redwood Road site for $32,000. In late 1960, the Hayward architectural firm Wahamaki and Corey was commissioned to design the new building. Castro Valley contractor Wallace Webb & Son was chosen as the builder.

There was something very different about this new Castro Valley Library. Any residents hoping for a converted barn or windmill were out of luck. For the first time in the community’s history, the library facility would be purpose-built and designed with the input of the county’s librarians. Construction began in December of 1960.

On February 13, 1962, Castro Valley residents were invited to the grand opening of their striking, mid-century modern library. At over 10,000 square feet, the new building felt like a cathedral to knowledge compared to the cramped “brooder branch” of Castro Hill or the tank house of Mrs. Booth.

While impressive, the new Redwood Road site got off to a rocky start. Due to a lack of funding, the new branch lacked the selection offered by some other local libraries, opening with only about 23,000 books. Soon though, the library’s collection was growing at a furious pace, and by 1967, it had jumped to more than 43,000 available volumes.

The new facility also offered expanded programming. Storytime, magicians, and puppeteers were staple programs as the Castro Valley Library moved into the 1970s. Catering to all ages, the library added comic books to its collection in 1975, as well as local history books in 1977 in a partnership with the Friends of the Castro Valley Library.
Heading into the 1980s, the library enjoyed a bit of a facelift. New carpet replaced linoleum tiles, the teen section expanded, and the Castro Valley Women’s Club improved the landscaping. The library also held its first “Computer Day” in December 1982, giving many local residents their first opportunity to use a computer.

As time passed, a familiar problem emerged. The Redwood Road site was becoming too small for the community. In July of 1990, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors began to plan for the future of the Castro Valley Library.

In the meantime, the Redwood Road branch would soldier on. At the time of its closure in Fall 2009, the once seemingly endless space was crammed with books but lacked needed computer stations. After 47 years, Castro Valley was ready for another library.

Today’s Castro Valley Library

The new Castro Valley Library took much longer to conceive and build than those that came before. Alameda County purchased the site of the new library back in the early 1990s. Long term plans were made to fundraise and develop the site. The reality of a new Castro Valley Library took a giant leap forward in 2004 when a grant of almost $14 million from the State of California was awarded for the project. Small and large donations from Castro Valley residents as well as money from the County of Alameda made up the difference in this $22.3 million project.

The community celebrated the groundbreaking for the new Norbridge Avenue location on April 18, 2008. By July of 2009, the new library, designed by Berkeley architects Noll and Tam, was nearing completion. Progress was photographed hourly and posted on the county’s library website. That same month, Oakland artist Jos Sances was finishing up the 700 square foot ceramic tile mural in the children’s section. It is one of the Library’s many pieces of art, chosen with community input by the Alameda County Arts Commission.

A lot was happening on the outside of the library, too. The Hayward Area Recreation District was building its “pocket park” next door. The Alameda County Flood Control District was busy rehabilitating the stretch of Castro Valley Creek that ran alongside the new building. These projects, in conjunction with the new library, transformed the entire area into an interactive space.

Finally, the big day arrived. On Halloween 2009, the new Castro Valley Library opened to the public. Almost 2,000 residents participated in the “Great Castro Valley Book Pass”—a human chain that passed books from the old Redwood Road site to the new Norbridge Avenue site. What was the first book passed? A copy of local historian Lucille Lorge’s history of Castro Valley. A telling gesture—a community celebrating its future by remembering its past.

The new 34,537 square foot Library is a green building with solar panels and other resource-conserving components that earned it LEED silver designation. The classroom and large community room have allowed for expansion in the number and size of programs for all ages. Circulation of materials doubled in the new Library’s first year of operation.

Today’s beautiful 21st century facility continues to welcome thousands of visitors each week and expand services to meet community needs. Not bad for an institution founded in Crow Canyon with only 54 books and 8 patrons.

Participate in Our Democracy! by crselig2014
Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 11:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

voteThe Library is pleased to host two events in October 2018 to help you participate in our democracy.

Ballot Propositions and Pizza

On Tuesday, October 9 at 6:00 pm Castro Valley Matters will host a nonpartisan and open discussion about the ballot measures appearing on the November 6 ballot. They want to empower you to understand what you’re being asked to vote for. They’ll have pizza on hand to fuel your civic engagement!

League of Women Voters Candidates Forum

The LWV Eden Area is hosting candidates forums at various libraries. At Castro Valley Library they’ll host the candidates for three local races on the November ballot. Join us on Sunday, October 14 at 1 pm to get insight into the candidates.

The schedule is as follows:

1 pm: Fairview Fire Protection District Directors (Three Candidates for Two Positions)

1:50 pm: Oro Loma Sanitary District Board of Directors (Four Candidates for Three Positions)

2:40 pm: East Bay Municipal Utility District Director, Ward 7 (Two Candidates for One Position)

3:30 pm: AC Transit District Director, Ward 4 (Two Candidates for One Position)

The deadline to register to vote or to update your registration is October 22. You can register or check the status of your registration by clicking here.

And don’t forget to vote on November 6!

SimplyE Makes eBooks Simple! by crselig2014
Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


If you like reading eBooks on your phone or tablet, we’ve got a great new app for you called SimplyE!

We’re proud to be the first Bay Area Library to provide the SimplyE App to our patrons. SimplyE gives Alameda County Library card holders one interface to Browse, Borrow, and Read our entire collection of eBooks. The app brings together titles from our eBook providers, including OverDrive, Cloud Library, RBdigital, and Enki.

With one login and as few as 3 clicks, you can start discovering and reading our entire collection of nearly 100,000 eBooks.

With the SimplyE app you can:

  • Find eBooks in one place
  • Borrow eBooks instantly
  • Read eBooks on the app

SimplyE works for Apple iOS and Android devices. And while it does not include our large collection of eAudioBooks, it greatly simplifies the eBook experience.

More information about getting started with SimplyE can by found by clicking here.

Enjoy! And please call us at the reference desk if you have more questions, 510-667-7900.

Join the Summer Reading Game Today! by crselig2014
Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

SRGLogoReading Takes You Everywhere at the Library this summer! The Alameda County Library’s Summer Reading Game begins on Monday, June 11.

You can play online or play on paper. For the online game click here. To play the game the old-school way and log your reading on our fun paper game board, visit your nearest branch library.

You’ll be earning points for reading and participating in activities. You can earn great prizes and be entered into weekly and grand prize drawings!

We have reading games for everyone, ages 0 to 100 plus! Please join us!

Just Jazz: A Spring/Summer Jazz Series by crselig2014
Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 1:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A afternoon of jazz at the Library! Make that two. How about four!?!

Join us! All programs are free and require no tickets.

Swing Into Spring, Saturday, May 5, 2 pm to 3:30 pm

In Full Swing is a 20-piece big band under the direction of Milt Bowerman. You’ll want to get up and dance!

Cole Swings Cole, Sunday, May 20, 2 pm to 3:30 pm

Enjoy the music of Nat King Cole with the George Cole Trio featuring vocalist/guitarist George Cole, pianist Richard Nelson Hall, and bassist Carla Kaufman.

Magic of Ol’ Blue Eyes, Sunday, June 10, 2 pm to 3:30 pm

Accomplished jazz vocalist and Castro Valley resident Mitch Green teams up with The Benny Watson Trio for a tribute to Frank Sinatra.

Dave Rocha Trio, Sunday, July 8, 2 pm to 3 pm

Local trumpet player Dave Rocha and his band play an eclectic mix of jazz, pop and original compositions including up-tempo bebop, swing, blues, Latin jazz, and ballads.



Bookleggers make magic! by crselig2014
Thursday, March 22, 2018, 11:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

BookleggingThirdGradeIf you love kids and books and you’re looking for a flexible volunteer opportunity, consider becoming at Castro Valley Booklegger.

Bookleggers make magic! They are a group of volunteers dedicated to promoting independent reading by children. Bookleggers visit K to 5 classrooms in the Castro Valley Unified School District to share great books, including exciting adventures, suspenseful mysteries, hilarious comedies and eye-popping nonfiction.

In the past year, Bookleggers have presented in more than 60 classrooms across the District. The teachers and students love it when the Bookleggers come to visit.

The Orientation Meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 from 10:30 am to 11:30 am. At the meeting you will meet library staff, get a demonstration of Booklegging, learn about the training program, and understand the commitment necessary to be an outstanding Booklegger.

During the training, which starts the following week on April 17, you’ll learn booktalking and storytelling skills. You’ll pair those skills with your talents and passion to connect kids and books.

Please RSVP for the Orientation Meeting by emailing


Join us at the Kick Off for Castro Valley Reads! by crselig2014
Wednesday, January 3, 2018, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


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