Berkeley believes that their collection "remains the Library's most vital community resource" (Cummins et al., n.d.). There are many different selectors of library material and providing a diverse collection is important to the library. However, the Berkeley Public Library also wants to make it easier for patrons to discover diversity in the collection. In 2016, they partnered with Equal Read, to provide families with an easy search feature that would make it easier to search the catalog for children's literature that offered a "broadly diverse collection of characters" (Dentan, 2016). Users just need to type in the phrase "equal read" into the catalog to find the diverse collection.

- Nicklesh Sagran

Reducing the Digital Divide

Libraries around the world strive to reduce the digital divide by providing access to technology for communities that do not have adequate access to it. Internet access is one of the most important of these technologies. Without adequate internet access, people "cannot participate fully in the new learning and civic ecologies created by networked communities" (Garmer, 2014, p. 29). Access to the internet is also an important service to attract patrons to visit library buildings. These visits are important because it provides libraries with the opportunity to promote programs and other services (Garmer, 2014).

One of the objectives in the Berkeley Public Library's strategic goals is to "upgrade [the Central] Library's high speed internet services to 10 Gigabytes to enable greater access to online resources" (Berkeley Public Library, n.d.-b).

In addition to the WiFi improvements to the Central library, the Berkeley Public Library also has Chromebooks that can be borrowed for day use at the Central library through the self service laptop kiosks, or checked out to use at home for up to 28 days with the option for two renewals to their due dates. They also plan to extend the laptop borrowing services to all the branch locations. The Chromebooks that patrons can borrow for home use also come with a WiFi hotspot that provides library patrons with free internet access. The Berkeley library identified internet and computer access as a problem for members of their community and took action to provide the necessary resources towards solving that problem (Berkeley Public Library, n.d.-a).

- Nicklesh Sagran

Disability Services

According to the ADA "If the clear floor space allows parallel approach by a person in a wheelchair, the maximum high side reach allowed shall be 54 in (1370 mm) and the low side reach shall be no less than 9 in (230 mm) above the floor " (2002). Despite this being a requirement, many libraries struggle to fulfill the needs of customers who are disabled. Berekely Public Library specifically addresses this in their collection development plan when they discuss avoiding using high up or very low shelving to make their collections more accessible (Cummins et al., n.d.). 

The Berkeley Library also has a host of disability services that can be found on this page of their website. This includes sign language interpreters, and materials in braille and large print, a phone line for the deaf or hard of hearing, described videos, adaptive internet workstations, screen readers, and books by mail service. Although diversity in current libraries has been focused on race and culture, it is important to remember that disabled people are often underserved in communities and these issues can be compounded for those who are a part of the BIPOC community, and disabled.

-Katryna Pierce

Immigrants and Refugees

The GARE Report on Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries states, "Library departments have been at the forefront of local and regional initiatives to proactively change the policies, practices and systems that create barriers to prosperity and well-being for people of color (Sonnie, 2018, p. 1)." The Berkeley Public Library aims to make their branches open places for refugees, immigrants, and undocumented individuals. One July 23rd, 2018, Berkeley Public Library released a statement and resolution regarding immigrant families (Warren, 2018). Here are selected points from the statement that demonstrate how the Berkeley Library strives to make their libraries welcoming environments for all people.

Berkeley Public Library:

· Reaffirms its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice

· Committs to enacting policies and programs recognizing the diversity of the Berkeley community

· Supports the DACA Dreamers and Immigrant community, providing services regardless of residency status

· Encourages all residents to use the Library regardless of immigration status

-Paige Stringham

Berkeley READS Program

In Rising to the Challenge: Envisioning Public Libraries writer Amy Garmer wrote, "Providing access and connecting knowledge to the needs of individuals and the community have always been at the center of the mission and purpose of libraries (Garmer, 2014)." As a trusted institution Berkeley Public Library has created a safe environment to serve individuals with social and educational needs. The Berkeley READS program provides free literacy services to adults over the age of 16. Patrons involved in the program are matched with a tutor who provides one-on-one literacy lessons. The program offers drop-in sessions for patrons who did make an appointment with a tutor. A few branches of Berkeley Public Library have designated a computer lab specifically for this program. The READS program also strives to develop literacy skills among children and families. Volunteers visit various organizations in the community and provide storytimes and free reading materials to youth. This program is also invaluable for providing people with opportunities to serve within their community. Individuals living in the Berkeley area who have at least a high school diploma and who have completed training may volunteer as an adult literacy tutor. Volunteers must commit to at least two hours a week over a two-month period.

-Paige Stringham

No Fines!

As of July 1st, 2018, Berkeley Public Library does not charge late fees for most of their materials. The library continues to charge late fees for tools, science equipment, and laptops, however, all fines for adult books, CDs, DVDs, and magazines have been eliminated. Patrons will continue to be charged when any item is lost or damaged. On the date this new rule went into effect, the library removed all late fees from every patron account. Patrons who wish to still financially support the library are encouraged to donate directly to the Berkeley Public Library. When the BPL began this new policy they stated, "Access to books and information is vital for everyone and is a key part of BPL's mission (Berkeley Public Library, n.d)." Berkeley Public Library believes that changing the way they do fines is a way for people to not feel excluded from having access to information and knowledge. BPL successfully stopped charging late fees for children's items over 30 years ago, and felt that they were in a place where they could do the same for other items.

BPL found that 88% of materials are returned within one week of their due date regardless of the fine procedure. Recently, eliminating fines has occurred in libraries across the country including in the Baltimore County Public Library and Salt Lake City Public Library (Tadayon, 2018). Director Elliot Warren sees this as a way to encourage people to visit the library rather than set a barrier. Eliminating fines at BPL has been especially helpful for low-income patrons. BPL found that out of the 11,000 patrons who were blocked from using library services, most came from low-income neighborhoods (Warren, 2018). Before the new policy, patrons would come to the library and express how they felt they could not afford to use library services and were afraid of getting late fees. Warren said, "Libraries are not a secondary community service; they are primary (Warren, 2018)." The new policy allows librarians to focus more of their time on other services rather than spending many hours a week accounting for people's fines. According to BPL circulation manager Jay Dickinson, the "no fines" policy does not "punish patrons for being a few days late on books, but incentives them to return material on time (Warren, 2018)." The library is not losing much of their funding from eliminating late fees. Only 1% (or around $170,000) of their budget came from late fees.

In Rising to the Challenge: Envisioning Public Libraries Amy Garmer explains that successful libraries are willing to "Explore alternative governance structures and business models that maximize efficient and sustainable library operations and customer service (Garmer, 2014, x)." Most libraries have traditionally charged fees for late books; however, this is increasingly changing. Like Berkeley Public Library, many libraries have found ways to receive funding and have the majority of their books returned on time without charging late fees. Changes like this can ensure that the public will continue to use library services well into the future without fear or embarrassment over fines.

-Paige Stringham


(n.d) No late fees. Berkeley Public Library. Retrieved from: https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/library/faqs/home 

ADA accessibility guidelines. (Sept. 2002). U.S. Access Board. Retrieved from: https://www.access-board.gov/adaag-1991-2002.html#4.2

ADA. [online image]. https://www.access-board.gov/adaag-1991-2002.html#4.1

Berkeley Public Library. (n.d.-a). Berkeley public library: FY 2020 priority activities. https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/sites/default/files/files/inline/2020strategic_goals.pdf

Berkeley Public Library. (n.d.-b). Chromebook latptop [sic] and hotspot lending. https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/laptops

Berkeley READS in action. [photograph] Retrieved from https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/library/literacy-berkeley-reads 

Cummins, H., Dufour, T., Flores, L., Finney, K., Gonzalez, A., Hale, N., Merlin, R., Shioishita, J., & Warren, E. (2020, May 12). Berkeley public library collection management plan. Berkeley Public Library.  https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/sites/default/files/files/inline/draft_collection_managemen_plan.pdf

Dentan, S. (2016, April 28). Library Partners with Equal Read: Project Offers Easy Access to the Diversity of Berkeley Public Library's Children's Collections. Berkeley Public Library. https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/about/news/library-partners-equal-read-project-offers-easy-access-diversity-berkeley-public-library

Equal Read [online image]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/equalread

Friends of Berkeley Library. [Photograph] Retrieved from: https://www.berkeleylibraryfriends.org 

Garmer, A. (2014) Rising to the challenge: Re-envisioning public libraries. Aspen Institute.

Literacy: Berkeley Reads. (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/library/literacy-berkeley-read

Sonnie, A. (2018). Advancing racial equity in public libraries: Case studies from the field [Issue brief]. Government Alliance on Race and Equity. https://www.racialequityalliance.org/wpcontent/uploads/2018/04/GARE_LibrariesReport_v8_DigitalScroll_WithHyperlinks.pdf 

Stara, L. (n.d.). Laptop lending machine [Photograph]. Pinterest.  https://tr.pinterest.com/pin/613052568002451332/

Tadayon, A. (2018). Berkeley libraries to stop charging late fees. East Bay Times. Retrieved from: https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/06/11/berkeley-libraries-to-stop-charging-late-fees/ 

Warren, E. (2018). Resolution in support of library services for undocumented residents, immigrants and dreamers. Berkeley Public Library. Retrieved from: https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/about/news/resolution-support-library-services-undocumented-residents-immigrants-and-dreamers

Warren, E. (2018). Berkeley public library to end charging of daily late fees for teens and adult materials. Berkeley Public Library. Retrieved from: https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/about/news/berkeley-public-library-end-charging-daily-late-fees-teen-and-adult-materials

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