Oakland Public Library main branch

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The smell of old and worn paper wafts through the door as you step into the first floor of the public library main branch in downtown Oakland. Faint whispers come from two librarians sitting promptly at their desks. Stacks of bookshelves flank both sides of the building, covered in stories waiting to be read. Smaller desks are occupied by students who are consumed by their projects. You can find a sense of relaxation in the silence that overcomes the library.

Wandering the long halls titles of books running vertically up them becomes overwhelming to the eyes. Glimpses of old familiar works such as To Kill a Mockingbird or The Great Gatsby can cause a bit of nostalgia. A baby’s cry breaks the quiet; a mother soothes her child by rocking back and forth as she quietly exits the building.

The computers emit a small hum, but the turning of pages by an avid reader quickly drowns this out as he plows through the latest science fiction book.

Photographs decorate the walls outside the Oakland History Room on the third floor. Each tells a story, yet they also leave you wanting to know more. The room is vacant but it is peaceful because you can see the culture of city captured in this tucked-away archive.

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