“If you live in this community, we only ask that you think about how you can use this building. Name it anything you like. Purpose it to any goal that benefits the community—library, social or political neighborhood center. All we ask is that you consider keeping it out of the hands of a city which will only seal the fence and doors again, turning the space back into an aggregator of the city’s trash and a dark hole in the middle of an embattled community. The doors here are open. And there are many others simply waiting to be.”
– Biblioteca Popular Victor Martinez Facebook page
Biblioteca Popular Victor Martinez is a community library on the site of the former Miller Public Library in the Fruitvale district. The Miller Avenue library was founded in 1918, and closed down in 1979. It briefly housed a school and a social services center until it was permanently closed in 2010. Community activists claimed the site in 2012, naming it after a local writer who died in 2011. The police initially attempted community members from claiming space, sealing off the building’s entrances. The community has persevered and cultivated a community garden and resource center. Volunteers offer free ESL classes and hosts community events. Books in English and Spanish are available to the public to take home and share with others.