President’s Message – August 2021

Karen Butter, FAL Board President

An unexpected award arrived in the mail for FAL recently. Each year Girls Inc. of the Island City selects Alameda organizations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to support the empowerment of girls and to inspire them to be strong, smart, and bold. This year the Friends of the Alameda Free Library was one of the organizations so recognized in the In-Kindness Award category. Thank you to the Girls Inc. board and staff for this honor. We value our partnerships with local organizations.

Housing is a significant concern throughout the country and in our island city. A local blog discussed repurposing the Carnegie Library building with apartments for unhoused individuals. Carnegie Libraries have a long proud history in this country, including for California, of bringing free library service to communities. Of the 144 Carnegie libraries built in California, 59 have been demolished and 36 are still libraries. Eighty-five have undergone adaptive reuse such as museums, city halls, community centers, art centers, and police departments. Locally the Alameda Free Library was one of the first three Carnegie libraries built in California. Opened in 1903, the construction cost was $30,842.

The blog proposal suggests repurposing the Carnegie with anywhere from 29 to 54 units. The Carnegie building is in prime location central to many services and bus lines. It’s very sad to see such a magnificent structure, that was central to life in Alameda for more than 70 years, sit unused. Carnegie was a proponent of free public service. Rehabilitating the Carnegie for housing appears to fall within Carnegie’s vision.