Oakland, California is a diverse and complex city. Twice the area of San Francisco and half the population, it is a city with room to breathe. And that breath is filled with vibrant expressions of civic engagement, social activism, urban art, and hyper-local community culture. ‘Oakland is Proud’ has long been a unifying sentiment shared across its many neighborhoods. Rooted in that fellowship is a history of grassroots organizing driven to provide support for the community from within the community.
Anthony Propernick is the Senior Library Assistant and Manager at the 81st Avenue Branch of the Oakland Public Library. Situated in East Oakland, a region that is feeling the effects of the city’s fast moving gentrification quiet differently than it’s often spotlighted Uptown district, the neighborhoods this branch serves are still challenged by a lack of basic infrastructure and services. Less than a decade old, the branch provides modern library services like free public internet access, community workshop and study space, bicycle repair clinics, as well as many off-site outreach programs like film screenings and laundromat story times.
Last year, with the efforts from Anthony and supported by grants and fundraising by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library, Oakland Public Library purchased its first Xtracycle–an eSwoop in Zone Blue with a full Hooptie system. Since then the outreach team from OPL has been able to ride their OPL Bike Library to city-wide community events and festivals where they offer free books and helpful resources from their custom bike trailer. And their fleet is expanding.
“Recently, we purchased two more Xtracyle Edgerunners to expand on our offsite programming, specifically mobile bike repair in East Oakland. East Oakland lacks bike infrastructure and bike shops. Since 2014, we’ve offered bike repair clinics at our 81st Ave Branch Library which has expanded to our Martin Luther King Jr. Branch on 69th Ave and International Blvd.,” writes Anthony. “The new bikes and equipment are a result of this work along with interest and funding from the City of Oakland Department of Transportation to expand on what we’ve been doing with FREE bike repair in East Oakland. So, the new bikes and trailers will be used as mobile bike library repair units serving communities lacking access to bikes and bike repair.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the bike repair clinics and most all library service have been on pause. Anthony and his partner Manny Hernandez were redeployed as disaster service workers and have been coordinating food distribution since early May. They found a new way to utilize the bikes to occasionally carry extra meals they get from Oakland restaurants and deliver them to homeless encampments near the 81st Ave. Branch library.
Together with Reginald “RB” Burnette Jr., president of the original Scraper Bike Team, Anthony’s team is gearing up to relaunch their bike repair clinics at 81st Ave and MLK libraries. They are also in the process of purchasing the remainder of the tools and supplies needed to launch their mobile bike repair clinics.
Xtracycle works to empower people with transformational tools that move the body and spirit and we are thrilled to see Anthony and his team putting these tools to such direct use.
If you would like to support Anthony and his team with OPL Bike Library services please consider donating to the Friends of the Oakland Public Library. Or, for in-kind donations of repairable bikes and components such as tubes, patch kits, brake and shifter cables, tires (20in most commonly needed), balance bikes, chains, pedals and grips, please contact Anthony Propernick at the 81st Avenue Branch of the Oakland Public Library at 510-238-3569.