After being idled by pandemic, libraries are coming back strong

After being idled by pandemic, Contra Costa libraries are coming back strong

After being idled by pandemic, libraries are coming back strong
In honor of Dental Health Month for Children, Concord Library’s Story Time on Feb. 7 featured representatives from Parkside Pediatric Dentists in Concord. Dental Assistant Lindsey Doiron demonstrates the proper technique for brushing teeth to her audience of youngsters and their parents. (David Scholz photo)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Feb. 13, 2023) — A variety of programming for all ages, new leadership and additional hours are beckoning patrons to the local branches of the Contra Costa County Library system as 2023 churns ahead.

After the shuttered libraries reopened and transitioned from a purely virtual experience, it didn’t take long for the buzz to return in full force.

“I do think that word has spread about our events, and they are bringing people back into the library,” said Addie Spanbock, Concord’s adult services librarian.

One popular program is the BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby) Book Club for parents of young children.

“As a relatively new mom myself, I was inspired to hold an ongoing program where parents/caregivers can participate in something they enjoy but can be comfortable bringing their little one along,” she said. “I encourage parents and caregivers who are book lovers with a child under 4 to come, even if they haven’t read the book, to learn more about the program and see if it is the right fit for them.”

BYOB is held at 10:15 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month. All of the titles are about 300 pages or less. The book for March 1 is “Left on Tenth” by Delia Ephron.

Something for adults and kids alike

While celebrating the return to in-person activities, Spanbock also acknowledged the virtues of the online experience. Forever Young, a book club for adults, started in July 2018 as an in-person experience but switched to a virtual model during the pandemic. It has remained virtual and attracts members from throughout the county. Even a participant who moved to the Midwest still attends.

Held at 4 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month, the group discuss children’s and teen titles. Upcoming titles include “Tell Me Three Things” by Julie Buxbaum on Feb. 21 and “Answers in the Pages” by David Levithan on March 21. Contact the Concord library for the Zoom link.

Spanbock also is working with the Mt. Diablo Audubon Society to offer birdwatching classes for all ages starting in the spring.

On the children’s side, an enthusiastic Rosa Lassalle is spearheading a variety of programs serving all corners of the community.

Storytimes and workshops

The Concord Library delivers Storytimes every Tuesday. Once a month, a community member is invited to read aloud and talk about what he or she is doing for the community. On the horizon is Storytime for children with autism and a baby program for the next trimester of 2023.

The branch will host two in-person workshops for children 3-6 years old who are going to kindergarten this fall. Those workshops are part of the Kindergarten Countdown County Program, an initiative that helps families understand the important role they have in their children’s lives. This year, there will be an English session on Feb. 16 and one in Spanish on Feb. 22. Both sessions begin at 3:30 p.m.

Lassalle is also partnering with local organizations to bring their programs to the branch. Monument First 5 will be at the Concord Library this month to emphasize the importance of reading and playing with one’s child. In March, the non-profit Tandem will share ways parents can include math with reading.

To Celebrate Black History Month, the branch has invited young Black author and actress Makenzie Lee-Foster. On Feb. 21, she will read one of her books, discuss how important it is to be yourself and make crafts with patrons.

Long-time library worker takes over in Clayton

Clayton Library to hold Book Sale Oct. 26-27Over in Clayton, Geneva Moss now has the reigns as the new community library manager. She previously worked in management for seven years at the Moraga, Antioch and Prewett locations. Part of the Contra Costa County Library System since January 2006, Moss also worked as a library assistant and then as a youth services librarian.

“We are here to serve the entire community with our programs, and I like to hear from the community,” said Moss, who is striving to remove barriers and meet the needs of underserved communities.

“I welcome feedback from the community: What we are doing well and what can do better and what are missing?”

The branch’s calendar has a variety of offerings. These include Camp Clayton, a STEAM focused drop-in program open to students 2-3 p.m. Wednesdays. On Feb. 15, author Oliver Chin will be available for children ages 5-11 who want to draw some of their favorite comics characters. Registration is required.

In the coming months, the branch will begin hosting a Memory Café. It will help those with memory challenges and for the caretakers who serve them.

“This will concentrate on activities that focus on memories to remember the early times in their lives, and boosting memories going forward,” said Moss.

The Clayton Community Library Foundation received a grant to plan and implement the project. “Without it, we would not be able to do it,” Moss said, lauding the wide variety of ways the foundation supports the library and its programs.

Expanded hours for new Pleasant Hill branch

Pleasant Hill library
Pleasant Hill library. (Pete Cruz photo)

In Pleasant Hill, patrons have access to the system’s newest library branch for six days, or more than 40 hours a week. This, for the first time since early 2020, comes thanks to $322,000 in federal funding that is supporting new Monday hours.

The additional time, which also includes the branch being open two more hours on Tuesdays, took effect Jan. 3.

The funds became available when the Pleasant Hill City Council approved the use of federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that extend through June 30, 2024.

Current hours at the Pleasant Hill branch are:

  • Monday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Thursday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Want more information about events and activities at the Concord, Clayton, and Pleasant Hill branches? Visit and click on the Hours and Locations for the specific branch.

David Scholz
David Scholz

David Scholz is back in journalism as a freelance writer and photographer after nearly two decades in education. Prior to moving into teaching in 2000, he worked as a full-time journalist since 1988 for rural community and small daily newspapers in Central Ohio and Northern Nevada, and later in California with The Business Journal in Fresno and dailies in the Bay Area, including The Oakland Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. More recently Scholz also worked in an editing, writing, and page layout role with the Rossmoor News.