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From the Director

Photo by Kevin Andrew Jones

A year of challenges and opportunities


Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes


2011 has definitely been a year of challenges for Sacramento Public Library. Like most other institutions, we have faced reductions in resources, the prospect of further dwindling revenues, and more demand for our services. Our glass is definitely half full!


2011 is the year that we innovated, experimented and made a difference. We are very grateful to the California State Library for having the faith in us to demonstrate some truly cutting edge ideas. Our eReader/Nook project allowed us to purchase 300 Nooks from Barnes & Noble and begin circulating them just like regular books. This earned us a "Best of Sacramento" from Sacramento Magazine. Our Espresso Book Machine allows us to print books on demand, and more importantly, serve as a publishing center for local writers. If you have a book inside you, we can help! Finally, in a partnership with the Isleton Elementary School, we demonstrated that the library is a key partner in helping students improve their reading scores.


All of these projects are proof that the public library is a resource for everyone, and that in spite of tough times, we have to continue reaching for the future. Just remember, Scotch® Tape, nylon and the jet engine are all inventions from the 1930s!


We don't yet know what 2012 will bring Sacramento Public Library, but whatever it is, we plan to encounter it head on and do our best to keep our libraries open, well staffed and available to serve you.


May you and all your loved ones enjoy a happy and healthy 2012.


Rivkah K. Sass
Library Director
News From the Library

Sacramento Public Library Christmas holiday schedule


All Sacramento Public Library locations will be closed Saturday, December 24, through Monday, December 26, for the Christmas holiday observance, and most will be closed through January 1.  Only the following library locations will be open Tuesday, December 27 through Saturday, December 31:

  • Central Library
  • Carmichael Library
  • Valley Hi-North Laguna Library

Sacramento Public Library receives three 2011 Best of Sacramento awardsSacramento Magazine


Readers in the November 2011 Sacramento Magazine issue have voted Sacramento Public Library's eReader program as Best Idea to Get Sacramento Reading. To borrow an eReader, visit your local library location or the library's catalog.

Sacramento News & Review readers have bestowed two 2011 Best of Sacramento awards on the Sacramento Public Library, which they voted as the Best Place for Free Public Wi-Fi Internet Access and Best Way to Afford a Growing Comic Best of SacramentoBook Habit. Free wireless access is available at all 28 library locations, and comics and graphic novels can be found via the library's catalog and at multiple library locations. 

Notable Books: The book club led by English professors


The Sacramento Public Library continues its successful Notable Books program series with a discussion of Wallace Stegner's 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Angle of Repose. The next program is scheduled at Notable Booksthe Central Library on Sundays, January 29 and February 5, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 


Angle of Repose is about a wheelchair-using historian, Lyman Ward, who has lost connection with his son and living family and decides to write about his frontier-era grandparents.


The Notable Books series offers area book enthusiasts an opportunity to get to the heart of great literature. For each book, a scholar who specializes in the book's genre will both introduce the text and lead the book discussion. English Professors Jack Hicks of University of California, Davis and Jan Goggans of University of California, Merced will give presentations and lead the book discussions for Angle of Repose.

Jane Austen Tea Party set for Dec. 11 at Central Library


The Sacramento Public Library will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of 19th-century English author Jane Austen's beloved novel, Sense and Sensibility, at its second annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea on Sunday, December 11, from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria at the Central Library. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. and seating is at 2 p.m. 

Jane AustinTeens and adults can enjoy delicious tea and pastries, live Regency Era (1795 to 1820) music by the Quite Carried Away musicians, and a performance of the novel's greatest scenes by two of Sacramento's Elly Award-winning actresses. During the tea, there will be a Sense and Sensibility trivia game to challenge Austen fans.


The classic literary celebration will include a book sale, a silent auction of Jane Austen-themed items, and door prizes of the newly-published book, Death Comes to Pemberley, by famed British mystery writer, P.D. James.


The Friends of Sacramento Public Library and the Jane Austen Society of North America, Greater Sacramento Region will have membership tables at the event. Attendance in Regency Era costumes is encouraged.


As seating is limited, registration is required by calling the Sacramento Public Library at (916) 264-2920 or visiting the Events page at 

Sacramento Public Library presents Colors of War art exhibition


The Sacramento Public Library, in partnership with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, will present the thought-provoking art exhibition, Colors of War, through January 18 at its Central Library.


Colors of War, created by New York City-based artistTerry Rosenberg, is Democracya collection of 100 digital paintings that feature loaded words whose incendiary meanings are challenged by provocative juxtaposition and dramatic typography.  Rosenberg has judiciously chosen words with clashing, contested meanings that, when paired together, illustrate how our contemporary moment seems to reverberate in a continual state of confrontation and war.  Pairing such oppositions in a shared, pictorial territory underscores the stereotypical understanding of the words' meanings and evokes the troubled relations and inherent power struggles between them: you/me; us/them; she/he; spirituality/sexuality; patriots/traitors; instinct/reason; black/white; master/slave; Democrats/Republicans; Israelis/Palestinians; democracy/terrorism; Muslims/Christians; etc.


The exhibition was originally organized in collaboration with Sacramento Public Library Director Rivkah K. Sass, when she served as director of the Omaha Public Library. "The cumulative effect of his digital paintings is intellectually and emotionally striking. Viewers are made abundantly aware of the insanity of conflict that is not only endemic to human culture, but also human language," Sass stated.


The Colors of War website features images as well as the essay Colors of War and the Colors of Words by philosopher Richard Shusterman, the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar Chair in the Humanities at Florida Atlantic University.  Visitors to the website may also post comments and engage in discussion with the artist and others.


The public may view the art exhibition at no charge during the Central Library's open hours. A portion of the exhibit will be on concurrent display at Sacramento City Hall, 915 I Street, during City Hall open hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The Friends of the Sacramento Public Library have provided funding in support of this art exhibition at the Central Library.  

Librarians can suggest a "Great Read"


There are so many book choices among the nearly two million copies the Sacramento Public Library owns.  So, which book should you or your child read next?  The newly-launched Great Reads can provide suggested reading lists for all ages developed by library staff.


"The library is meeting the readers' advisory needs of our patrons in a variety of ways with this new online service," said Roberta Boegel, Collection Development Librarian.


When accessing the library's Great Reads web page, visitors will find recommended fiction and nonfiction titles for adults and school-age kids. Teen books will soon be added to the reading list.  Plus, subject bibliographies, to which the public can refer when choosing a library book, are available on the page for printing.


The Great Reads web page also features a link to the Sacramento Public Library staff  book blog, Book Rush.  "This is a book-centered blog that will be managed by an editorial board consisting of our librarians.  It will be a living, breathing blog with updated information regarding Sacramento Public Library and our community, along with excellent readers' advisory and recommendations," Boegel added.


Great Reads is a simple, streamlined service for our patrons.  According to Boegel, the library will continue its priority of providing excellent customer service in the area of readers' advisory."

Deposit Stations: Libraries on the Frontier


Editor's note: The Sacramento Public Library is pleased to regularly feature a snapshot of its 154-year history. To learn more about the library and the greater Sacramento region's history, please visit the Sacramento Room archives at the Central Library.


Checking out a library 1879


When the Sacramento library became a free public institution in 1879, the idea of a public library was still in its infancy in the West.   The Sacramento Library Association had for the previous 25 years run a subscription library in which a small group of between 150 and 250 members paid a hefty annual fee or quarterly subscription to

SPL bookplate
Sacramento Free Public Library bookplate (ca. 1880)

borrow books. Because the library had been private, there was no need to worry about missing or damaged books. But beginning in 1879, conceivably anyone could borrow from the library without deposit. In this new frontier, Sacramento turned to public libraries in the eastern states for direction and in some cases even developed completely novel lending practices.


Compared to today, the checkout procedures of 1879 can seem pretty complicated and the rules unnecessarily strict, but it should be remembered that the library was lending out public property for the first time. In 1879, one could obtain a Sacramento Free Library borrower's permit upon meeting two requirements: being listed in the Sacramento City Directory and either personally knowing one of the library trustees or providing a reference from a reputable citizen of the city. Patrons chose books in the library catalog (a set of bound volumes), and requested them using the Constant or Perpetual Library Catalogue, a complicated checking system involving racks, wires and tags which had been devised by Sacramento Library Director W. C. Fitch.


To check out a book, the patron filled out and submitted a card with title and contact information. Just one book at a time was the rule, and the checkout time ranged from 5 to 20 days depending on the demand for the book. Late fines were steep - initially a 25-cent flat fee (close to $6 today), and anyone with an unreturned book could not check out another.



From the Foundation  

Where Donor Support Went


In 2011, the Sacramento Public Library Foundation distributed over $300,000 to the library for programs, books and materials. Highlights include our annual gala, Authors on the Move, which showcased Robert Hirst, editor of the Mark Twain biography and raised $40,000 for library programming initiatives and projects. In addition, the Foundation provided support for the projects outlined below:


Summer Reading

The Foundation's generous funding allowed the library to provide a well-rounded Summer Reading Program that touched more than 27,000 adults, teens, kids and pre-readers who signed up between June and August 2011.


Library Director Rivkah K. Sass stated, "Funding was used to provide levels of programming and engagement that would have been impossible without Foundation support."


The 538 Summer Reading programs reached over 19,400 children and teens across Sacramento County. In addition to providing food for children's imaginations, these programs were instrumental in making 2011 the best year ever for Summer Reading in Sacramento.


As this year's Summer Reading theme was One World, Many Stories, young people shared global stories with storytellers, dance troupes, musicians and award winning puppet companies, as well as through creative arts and crafts programs.   Children who finished the Summer Reading Program were rewarded with a book of their very own. Incentive books not only excite children about reading, they help children start their own personal collection of favorites and studies have shown that having a home library supports lifelong literacy.


Southgate Family Place

We are proud to have partnered with the library, California State Library and the Friends of Sacramento Public Library to help establish Sacramento's first Family Place Library at the Southgate Branch, a developmentally appropriate early childhood space within the children's reading area. Programming includes a five-week Family Place Parent-Child Workshop that promotes developmentally appropriate play for young children while providing their caregivers access to subject experts in the areas of literacy, nutrition, hearing and speech, dental care and the arts. For children, the space and the programs provide opportunities and materials for constructive play, as well as positive interactions with caregivers and other children. For caregivers, the space provides access to child development and parenting information in multiple languages and formats.


Lucky Day Collection

With support from the Foundation and Friends of the Sacramento Public Library, Lucky Day Collections hit the shelves at all 28 branches in mid-summer and local library users love the new addition! These collections provide the most popular titles on a first come-first served basis, so that any time you visit your local library you have the chance of scoring that bestseller you've been dying to read - without having to wait for an available copy.  Foundation donors provided $58,000, which bought more than 2,300 books across the library system. The Foundation's fundraising efforts this summer will continue to support the collection into 2012.


Nancy Lawrence,

Sacramento Public Library Foundation Board President

From the Friends   

Find great bargains at the following Friends of the Sacramento Public Library Friendsand branch Friends' book sales:

Saturday, December 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Friends of the Sacramento Public Library Warehouse Book Sale. The Friends host book sales at their Book Den's warehouse six times per year at 8250 Belvedere Avenue, Suite E, Sacramento (off Power Inn Road, and one block south of 14th Avenue). There is a wonderful selection of books and other materials, sorted by category. Prices range from 50 cents for pocket books to $2 for hardbacks.

Become a member of Friends of Sacramento Public Library and enjoy the benefit of early-bird shopping opportunities at all book sales.


Friends warehouse bag sale clearance days: The Friends of Sacramento Public Library will host a three-day Clearance Warehouse Sale on Friday, January 6 through Sunday, January 8 at the Friends' warehouse, at the rear of their Book Den store.


All warehouse books are $6 a bag. Public sale hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on January 7 and 8. A preview for Friends' members only is scheduled for 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., January 6. Prospective members may join at the door for $15 and attend the preview. More than 75,000 paperback and hard-bound books, videos, and more will be sold. All proceeds benefit the Sacramento Public Library.


The Book Den  store will be open during the Warehouse Sale and Preview. At the Book Den, shoppers can select from individually-priced books, including collectibles, and other materials, with most books priced at $3 and up. The Book Den is regularly open Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information call (916) 731-8493. 


Other Friends book sale dates include: 

  • Orangevale Library: Barnes & Noble Bookfair, supporting Friends of the Orangevale Library, will be held at the 6111 Sunrise Boulevard store in Citrus Heights through December 11.  Mention "Orangevale Library" at checkout and the library will receive a percentage of the value of items purchased.  Use Bookfair ID 10439271 for online Barnes & Noble purchases through December 16 to benefit the library branch. 
  • Courtland Library: Friday, December 9, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Check out our stylish handbags at the sale for holiday gift ideas. Are you a Friends member? Then join us early from 12 noon to 1 pm. 
  •  Fair Oaks Library: Saturday, December 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  •  Carmichael Library: Friday, January 6, 8 a.m. to 12 noon.


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In This Issue
Holiday Schedule
Notable Books
Jane Austen Tea Party
Colors of War
Great Reads
Libraries on the Frontier
From the Foundation
From the Friends
Quick Links

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Featured Events

For a list of all events at your local library branch, visit our Events Calendar or call (916) 264-2920



The Sacramento Public Library is hosting several branch programs to celebrate the winter holiday season.


Make Tamales and Holiday Cloth Napkins (family program, registration is required)
Galt-Marian O. Lawrence Library

December 9, Friday

2 p.m.


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Holiday Card Making (family program)
Courtland Library

December 10, Saturday, 1 p.m.  


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Holiday eReader Workshop (adult program)

South Natomas Library

December 10, Saturday

3:30 p.m.


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Decorate Holiday Cookies (school-age program)

North Sacramento-Hagginwood Library

December 14, Wednesday

4:30 p.m.


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Holiday Craft Making (family program)

North Natomas Library

December 15, Thursday

4 p.m.


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Holiday Craft Making: 3D Snowflakes (teen and adult program)

Fair Oaks Library

December 20, Tuesday

6 p.m.


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Holiday Cookie Decorating Party (school-age program)

Southgate Library

December 21, Wednesday

6:30 p.m.

Sacramento Public Library
828 I Street
Sacramento, CA  95814