Treasure Trove of Library, Cultural Riches

If Cicero was right that if you have a garden and a library you have everything you need, then maybe Contra Costa County isn’t doing so bad after all.

Seems that just when you maybe thought that the county library system had surpassed reinvention, it outdoes itself again. Little wonder, then, that the 26-branch organization is in the running for national library system of the year honors. We’ll know that outcome, incidentally, in early May.

Think of it – despite shrinking revenues affecting new material purchases, we are on track to break 7 million circulation by June 30th, the fiscal year end. Seems we just topped the magical five million barrier and then soon thereafter exceeded the 6 million marker. To boot, the county library website got over three million virtual visits last year.

Along the way, the library keeps adding astonishing adaptations like the national trail-blazing three Library-a-Go-Go automated book dispensers at BART and shopping malls; LINK + which allows users to order a book from over twenty library systems and a twenty three million collection throughout California and Nevada; the option of having books mailed directly to your home; on-line student homework help with expert tutors; databases like ‘Opposing Viewpoints’ and the Gayle Reference Library.

How about story-time podcasts, audio or e-books, or the options of posing a question to your local librarian by phone, text or chat-line? Or the Brainfuse Adult Lifelong Learning Center that offers practice exam test centers in GED or citizenship, live Microsoft Office tutoring, or 24 hour turn-around critiques of your resume.

The latest iteration, ‘Discover and Go’ is one of my favorites, though. Simply go on-line and you can reserve free or discounted tickets to over thirty Bay Area museums and cultural institutions including the likes of the Asian Art Museum, Blackhawk Car Museum, California Shakespeare Theater, Cartoon Art Museum, Chabot Space and Science Center, Lawrence Hall of Science, San Francisco Zoo, San Jose Tech Museum and, for something completely different, the U.S.S. Hornet submarine.

I can happily report that the family and I just got back from the Charles Schultz museum in Santa Rosa.

Arcade junkie? We’ve got the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda to set your wheels spinning. How about visiting the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, the only place on the planet with an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and a 4 story tall rain forest; all sharing one roof with over 40,000 live animals.

We Antioch folks are particularly blessed that the County has funded staff for a second city library at Prewett Park. The adjacent Gateway Learning Center twenty station computer lab is a bonus, as is the fact that that the two Antioch facilities are staggering their hours to stretch public availability.  Of course, the modestly-sized library has a limited selection but it was built so that expansion could easily take place.

Remember, too, one can order a book from anywhere in our current library system to be dropped off in 2-3 days at Prewett. Borrowing from other joined systems would, naturally, take longer. To connect to this fascinating matrix come in person, call 800-984-4636 or go to

Given all the angst befalling our town, our state, our country, and our world, the county library good news is a refreshing tonic. It echoes the inscription at the fabled library of Thebes: “Libraries, the medicine chest of the soul”.

Walter Ruehlig
Antioch Representative, CCC Library Commission

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