Attend the Premiere of the Visual Oral History of Legendary Sonoma County Winemaker Edward Lee “Mac” McDonald

Rohnert Park, CA, May 7, 2024 – The premiere of the Visual Oral History of Edward Lee “Mac” McDonald, the esteemed patriarch of African American winemakers in Sonoma County, is set for Monday, June 17 at 5 pm, generously hosted by Paradise Ridge Winery, 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Drive, Santa Rosa, announced Chris Falley, President of the Sonoma County Library Foundation. Tickets and more information available at https://sonomawinelibraryassn.org/events/.

“We are honored to present this next event in our new Tasting Diversity project as part of Juneteenth celebrations,” Falley said. Tasting Diversity is a collaboration of the Library Foundation, with the Sonoma County Library’s Wine Library, and the Sonoma County Wine Library Association. Advising partners include the Association of African American Vintners and the NAACP Santa Rosa/Sonoma County chapter.

“Mac sets the example for all of us,” said Tasting Diversity project coordinator Dennis McCarter, founder of award-wining McCarter Cellars and a member of the Foundation’s board of directors. “He’s an honored winemaker, dynamic teacher and formidable evangelist.  He and his wife Lil founded Visons Cellars in Windsor in 1995. Mac co-founded the Association of African American Vintners in 2002.”

The Visual Oral History (VOH) is produced for the Wine Association by Sonoma’s On the Wine Road radio host and podcaster Jeff Davis.  This is another in the Association’s noteworthy series of histories capturing the life and times of Sonoma’s iconic trailblazers in winemaking and winegrowing. Previous subjects have included Lee Martinelli, Zelma Long, and Joel Peterson, to name a few.

In addition to the premiere, the event features wine tasting and appetizers from some of the county’s prominent African American winemakers and chefs: Chris Christensen (Bodkin Wines), Dan Glover (L’Objet Wines), Justin Michelle Ward Trabue (Ward Four Wines), Dennis McCarter (McCarter Cellars), and Chef Marc-Henri Jean-Baptiste (Maison Porcella). Wines from Paradise Ridge will also be available to taste.

General admission is $55. For donors to the Library Foundation, and members of the SCWLA, AAAV, and NAACP, tickets are $45.

Sonoma County Wine Library has one of the most comprehensive collections of wine information in the world, with a collection of 5,000 volumes (including 1,000 rare books with some dating to 1514); subscriptions to some 40 periodicals, and more. The mission of the Wine Library is to preserve, make available, and distribute information regarding viticulture, enology, and wine history, with particular emphasis on the California North Coast Region. For more information, contact Megan Jones at mjones@sonomalibrary.org or 707.433.3772, ext 0416.

The Sonoma County Wine Library Association, founded in 1985 by Millie Howard, is the champion of the Wine Library, dedicated to supporting the Wine Library’s mission, resources, and activities.  Association activities throughout the year are carefully designed to engage, inform and empower. For more information, contact Julie Pedroncelli St. John, President at julie@pedroncelli.com or 707.482.3157.

The Sonoma County Library Foundation, since its initial formation in 1986, has been equal parts vocal advocate, dedicated funder and staunch champion for the Sonoma County Library. The Foundation received its IRS designation as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 1991, and since then has made its priority to support SCL services and programming where needed with inspiring examples throughout its history including bolstering various collections, enhancing the capacity of programs, and strengthening services through its strategic donations. Currently, the Foundation is leading a $3.6 million campaign to provide the collection, furniture, fixtures and equipment for the new Roseland Regional Library. Groundbreaking will be in late 2024.  For more information, contact Chrissy Nelson at funddevelopment@sonomalibrary.org or 707-800-2658.

Tasting Diversity, with its mission to showcase African American leadership in the wine community, held its sold-out ground-breaking inaugural event in February 2024.  Hosted by Fog Crest Vineyard, guests heard a panel discussion moderated by Jay Jackson, with panelists including: Christopher Christensen (Bodkin Wines), Danny Glover (L’Objet Wines), Rosalind Manoogian (Fog Crest Vineyard), Angela McCrae (Association of African American Vintners), Brenae Royal (Vineyard Manager, Monte Rosso Vineyard).  Tasting Diversity is a collaboration of the Sonoma County Library’s Wine Library, Sonoma County Wine Library Association, and the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation. Partners include Steve and Mary Graves, descendants of abolitionist John Brown; Association of African American Vintners; and the NAACP Santa Rosa-Sonoma County Branch.

Founded in 2002, the Association of African American Vintners stands as the first resource for advancing equity in the wine industry. Our mission is to provide comprehensive education, advocacy, and community support not only for Black vintners but also for wine brands and industry professionals. Serving as a guiding beacon, we advocate for inclusivity and breaking down barriers for all. With the mantra “We Make Wine Inclusive,” we welcome individuals across the wine community to seek the information required for industry advancement. Our commitment is to be a central hub where knowledge, support, and unity converge to propel everyone towards success. Visit aaavintners.org for more information and to purchase many AAAV member wines.

NAACP Santa Rosa – Sonoma County Branch envisions an inclusive community rooted in liberation where all persons can exercise their civil and human rights without discrimination. The organization is committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities. Its mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.

Peter E. Haas Jr Family Fund Announces $500,000 Gift for Roseland Regional Library Programming

March 12, 2024, Rohnert Park, CA – The Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund has announced a $500,000 grant to the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation for the new Roseland Regional Library, announced Chris Falley, Foundation president.

“We believe that Sonoma County deserves a world-class library in Roseland – a library that reflects the best of Roseland and serves the needs and dreams of the people who live there,” said Ginnie and Peter Haas Jr.   “We are delighted to contribute to making the Roseland Library a reality and hope others will join us in the effort.”

The new library is being built by the City of Santa Rosa in partnership with the Sonoma County Library on a 6.5-acre site at the intersection of Hearn and Dutton Avenues.  Groundbreaking for the new Roseland Regional Library is projected for late 2024, with ribbon cutting expected in early 2027. In addition to the new library, the city is building a new fire station next door. A community cultural center is planned for a later phase of construction.

“Our Foundation is honored to accept this leadership gift on behalf of the Sonoma County Library,” said Foundation President Chris Falley. “Not only will this gift ensure a cornerstone of the innovative programming planned for the new library, but we know it will inspire others to join our campaign as well.”

“This Haas Jr. Family Fund gift empowers elements of our programming that specifically strengthen our vision of ‘Creating Opportunities Together’,” said Sonoma County Library Director Erika Thibault. “We are deeply grateful that this key funding will help us expand partnerships and optimize access to resources for Roseland and people throughout the county.”

The Foundation is currently conducting a campaign to raise the $3.6 million needed to provide the collection, furniture, fixtures and equipment the new library will need. For information to join the campaign, visit the Foundation’s website, scplf.org.

Help us celebrate Women’s History month at the library!

This annual celebration serves as a crucial tribute to the contributions and achievements of women throughout history. It stands as a reminder of their resilience, strength, and commitment to progress despite facing systemic obstacles and discrimination.

This month offers an opportunity to honor the pioneers who fought for women’s rights, such as suffragists who campaigned tirelessly for voting rights, civil rights activists who challenged racial and gender discrimination, and trailblazers who shattered glass ceilings in fields traditionally dominated by men.

From political leaders like Marie Curie and Malala Yousafzai to cultural icons like Maya Angelou and Frida Kahlo, women have left an indelible mark on history through their innovation, courage, and perseverance.

By acknowledging and honoring the past achievements of women while also championing current efforts towards inclusivity and empowerment, we can strive for a more just and equitable future for all genders. Women’s History Month is not only a celebration but also a testament to the ongoing struggle for progress and equality worldwide.

Sonoma County Library celebrates National Women’s History Month with events, displays, and resources. Help us share in this annual tribute by celebrating and learning about the generations of women who influenced and enriched our society.

Some of our programs include a music program at the Petaluma Regional Library with artists Erica Ambrin, Kayatta, and Eki Shola, and a virtual author talk with NPR’s Nina Totenberg. To find out more about our programs as, well as reading lists, visit sonomalibrary.org/womenshistorymonth.

Growing Our Mobile Library and Community Outreach

Over the past year, Sonoma County Library has made a concerted effort to increase our outreach into the communities that make up Sonoma County through our mobile library, at the branch level, and at the director level.

Our BiblioBus is a mobile library van that holds up to 600 items to browse and borrow, including DVDs, bilingual baby books, graphic novels, and copies of the library’s most requested books.

Last year, the BibiloBus attended 111 events, with 11,757 people visiting the van! We recently expanded our route to serve remote and underserved areas of our county, including Bodega Bay, Cazadero, Geyserville, Monte Rio, and Agua Caliente.
In addition to BiblioBus stops, staff at our regional libraries also get out into the community, with a presence at parades, festivals, meetings, and other community events.

Last year, we marched in the Petaluma Butter & Eggs Parade, the Sebastopol Apple Blossom Parade, the Sonoma County Pride Parade, the Windsor Day Parade, among others. We have also appeared at festivals, such as the Healdsburg Día de Muertos Festival, the Cloverdale Citrus Fair, and the Grape Stomp in Sonoma Valley.

As your library director, and someone who is fairly new to Sonoma County, I have made it a priority to work with community groups and spread the word about the amazing resources the library has to offer.

You may have seen me speak at chamber of commerce meetings, the Sonoma County Women’s Forum, in Oakmont, at the American Association of University Women, and at local Rotary meetings.

If you are interested in hearing more about the library and would like me to speak to your community group, please reach out at director@sonomalibrary.org. I love to share what we’re doing!

Thank you for making 2023 a record breaking year!

Happy New Year! Sonoma County Library had a record breaking year in 2023. Here are just a few of our accomplishments:

With 4.2 million checkouts last year, we had our highest circulation in seven years—since before the passage of Measure Y. We increased our physical circulation by 24 percent from 2022.

By opening on Sundays, library branches were open the most hours in the history of the library, with 56 hours per week per branch, totaling more than 33,000 hours a year for all regional libraries.

We held Summer Lunch at the Library at seven libraries to help families struggling with food insecurity, and we hired 14 teen interns to help. We also expanded our outreach efforts at 32 external lunch sites.

We expanded our BiblioBus service by adding regular community stops in underserved areas of the county, including Monte Rio, Cazadero, Bodega Bay, Geyserville, and Boyes Hot Springs.

As we move into the new year, we will continue to improve programs and services at our branches, including adding BiblioBoxes—smart lockers that allow you to pick up your holds 24/7—to Rohnert Park, Windsor, Northwest, and Cloverdale.

We are also moving toward a more flexible technology model for the public computers at our branches. Instead of using a stationary desktop PC, you will be able to borrow a laptop in the library and sit anywhere you want. We have laptop kiosks at Central Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Sebastopol, Northwest, Rohnert Park, and Sonoma Valley, and will be adding them to Windsor and Northwest Library within the next few months.

Lastly, we will renovate the Petaluma Regional Library and the Healdsburg Regional Library—updating them with new furniture, carpeting, and modernizing the facilities.

Thank you for making 2023 such a great year. We know that 2024 will be even better!

Accept the Winter Reading Challenge!

You may be aware of Sonoma County Library’s Summer Reading Program, but did you know that we also offer a Winter Reading Challenge? This is the perfect time of year to curl up with a good book and a warm beverage of your choice. During these cold and dark nights, I prefer a cup of cocoa, sweetened with a peppermint candy cane.Whatever your choice of book or beverage, you can sign up online through Beanstack or visit your local branch and get a paper log. This lotería style challenge is open to all ages, and you are encouraged to complete reading and library-related activities to win prizes. The challenge runs through Friday, January 12. It’s not too late to sign up!

If you complete four activities in a row, you will earn a prize—a choice of either a lunch tote bag or a pop-it flyer. The Beanstack platform will track who has earned prizes, and participants can pick up prizes at any branch, through January 19, 2024.

This year we are excited to offer a Nintendo Switch as our grand prize drawing for patrons who complete all 16 activities! There will be one grand prize winner for the entire library system.

Activities include reading a picture book and voting in our Mock Caldecott contest, attending a library event, visiting a park, streaming music with Freegal, and of course, reading a variety of different books! We have a plethora of programs to attend, both in-person and virtual. Find out what is happening near you by visiting our events calendar.

Celebrating Friends of the Library

In the bustling world of libraries, a group of unsung heroes works tirelessly to ensure that our institutions remain vibrant hubs of learning, knowledge, and community engagement. The Friends of the Library are a dedicated group of volunteers who play a crucial role in supporting and promoting the vital work of libraries.

At Sonoma County Library, we have 10 Friends groups that we honor and celebrate during National Friends of the Library Week, October 15-21, 2023.

Friends of the Library are ardent supporters of libraries in their local communities. One of the primary functions of Friends of the Library is advocacy. They serve as vocal champions for libraries, advocating for increased funding, resources, and recognition. When libraries face budget cuts or other challenges, Friends are there, tirelessly working to ensure that the community’s library needs are met.

At their core, libraries exist to promote literacy and education, and Friends of the Library are instrumental in advancing this mission. They frequently raise funds, through book sales and other events, for programs that encourage reading, learning, and intellectual exploration, from children’s reading sessions to thought-provoking author talks.

In the digital age, the commitment of Friends of the Library remains unwavering. These unsung heroes continue to ensure that libraries remain essential cornerstones of our communities. Their dedication is a testament to the enduring value of libraries in an ever-evolving world, and Sonoma County Library is fortunate to have such a dedicated group of individuals as partners. Please help us celebrate our Friends of the Library volunteers, and to get involved, visit your nearest local branch.

The Library Where You Are

Sonoma County Library is always seeking ways to expand access to our services and collections. Two key components of our Reimagining Plan are to provide opportunities for all to learn, contribute, interact, and participate; and supporting community resiliency.

A key element of increasing access countywide is through our BiblioBus, a mobile library van that holds up to 600 items to browse and borrow, including DVDs, bilingual baby books, graphic novels, and copies of the library’s most requested books. Last year, the BiblioBus attended 111 events, with 11,757 people attending, and we are just getting started!

The BiblioBus is expanding its route to remote and underserved areas of our county, with stops in Bodega Bay, Cazadero, Geyserville, Monte Rio, Agua Caliente, and Larkfield-Wikiup. Patrons can browse the collection, check out new materials, sign up for a library card, access free WiFi, as well as a variety of other activities.

In addition to these new, regular stops, the BiblioBus attends community events, celebrations, and parades, and is available for private events not listed on our Community Stop schedule, such as The Living Room, an organization that promotes stability and support for Sonoma County women and children who are experiencing, or at-risk of experiencing, homelessness, and SCHIP (Sonoma County Indian Health Project).

The BiblioBus provides services in English and Spanish.

We connect with local leaders in Sonoma County to let them know about library services coming to their areas. If you would like to request the BiblioBus for an event or a regular stop, or want to know its schedule, visit sonomalibrary.org/bibliobus

Two people walking on a trail wearing backpacks, with text that reads: Visit Sonoma County Parks with your Library Card!

Use Your Library Card to “Check Out” the Great Outdoors

Do you know that in addition to checking out books and DVDs at your local library, Sonoma County Library also provides materials to help you enjoy the great outdoors?

The library is proud to participate in two initiatives that provide greater access to both regional and state parks, via our California State Parks Pass program and our Regional Parks Discovery Backpacks.

State Park passes provide free entry for up to four individuals to any participating state park and ensure that even those facing financial constraints can revel in the state’s unparalleled natural splendor.

State Park passes are available for checkout at all our branches and have a 21-day loan period, allowing entry to multiple parks during the three-week checkout period. Our Parks Pass program is extremely popular—Sonoma County Library ranks fifth in total circulation for parks passes, and fifth in holds compared to all other public libraries in California. These incredible statistics demonstrate how much Sonoma County residents love our parks and cherish our abundant natural beauty. Sonoma County Library currently has 393 State Park passes available with no waiting list, so get your parks pass today!

In addition to our State Parks Pass program, Sonoma County Library also offers entry to regional parks with our Regional Parks Discovery Backpacks.

Developed in partnership with Sonoma County Regional Parks, the backpacks include a parking pass good at all 56 regional parks, a parks map, trail itineraries, hiking tips, wildlife guides, and other information to enjoy self-guided adventures in the parks. Each pack is available for check out for 21 days and includes materials in English and Spanish.

You can learn more about these programs by visiting your local branch or sonomalibrary.org

Illustration of an otter clutching a fish and an open book with the library logo on the left page and a fork and spoon on the right page.

Lunch at the Library

Recent news reports highlight an increased demand placed on food banks due to the rising costs of groceries and termination of emergency allotments of the California food assistance program known as CalFresh. This affects families both locally and statewide.

Fortunately, Sonoma County Library is helping families struggling with food insecurity by offering free summer lunch for youth ages 0-18 at seven library locations: Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Northwest Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park-Cotati, Sebastopol, and Sonoma Valley, with funding provided by the California State Library. We received additional funds to hire teen interns to support this service, as well as funding for a mobile library van to conduct outreach at 30 more summer lunch locations countywide.

In addition to a nutritious meal, all of the library’s summer lunch events offer enrichment activities to keep children and youth engaged and to support reading and learning. By the end of June, we served 1,906 meals in our branches, conducted 22 outreach visits at external sites (633 meals), and our volunteers logged 257.5 hours! We are proud of the efforts of our staff and volunteers to provide this essential service to our communities, and we are continually seeking ways to grow and improve this program every year.

Sonoma County Library has partnered with Redwood Empire Food Bank since 2015 to offer this service, which was suspending during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are thrilled to resume sit-down service again. For more information about this program, visit sonomalibrary.org or contact your local branch library.