Contra Costa County residents who recorded their stories about local libraries for StoryCorps included a mother and son, teens, retirees, veterans, volunteers, adults who are learning to read, people who were influential in building new libraries, librarians and foundation members.
Below are a few of the pairs featured.
JASON DEITCH AND CHRIS BROWN
Deitch, a 42-year-old Martinez resident, is part of a Concord veteran's group. Brown is a county librarian who obtained a state grant and reached out to the veterans to find out how the library could serve them. They talked about a variety of programs funded through the grant, which were created to appeal to veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan using language, imagery and locations that would resonate better with them than traditional veterans' programs geared toward World War II and Vietnam vets.
"Nobody has ever said 'No' in a library around here," said a grateful Deitch. "Everyone has been exceptionally helpful."
GARY POKORNY AND TOM PANAS
Pokorny is a 71-year-old El Cerrito resident and retired Walnut Creek city manager who grew up on a farm in Nebraska. Panas is a 62-year-old El Cerrito resident and past president of the city's historical society. They talked about their support for a new El Cerrito library building and their lifelong love of libraries.
Pokorny said the El Cerrito group has identified about 20 possible library sites and is beginning a needs assessment.
"I think they're one of the really important community centers," Pokorny said, "where people meet with each other and find out they have common interests and get to know each other."
Panas said discovering what kind of library the people of El Cerrito want will be a major adventure.
"We really want to reach out to everybody," he said, "because we want them to have a voice in what this is going to be."
KATHERINE BRACKEN AND VERONICA DANGERFIELD
Bracken, 43, is a Pleasant Hill resident, library commissioner and founding member of the Pleasant Hill Library Fund. Dangerfield, 52, is a Pleasant Hill resident, member of the library fund, comedian and the mother of a member of the library's teen advisory group. The pair talked about the importance of libraries in their lives and their work to raise money and support for a new Pleasant Hill library.
"I think there's a particular type of person who works in the library," Bracken said. "They want to help people. It's not a retail type of help. They want to help people to make things better."
Dangerfield said she loves the Pleasant Hill library, but its building can't compare to some of the newer facilities that have been built in other cities in recent years.
"Since 2005, I've just been in love with the library," Dangerfield said. "But, I just think of the Pleasant Hill library as like a baldheaded stepchild, an ugly stepchild. If you see the Walnut Creek library, or Lafayette, they're swanky with new technology. And you come to ours and everybody uses it, but it looks like a barn. There's nothing fancy about it. The librarians do their best to make sure that everything is comfortable, but it definitely has a self-esteem problem."
NATALIE HILL AND DEAN SHIM
Natalie, 16, is president of the Pleasant Hill Library's Teen Advisory Group. Dean is a former member of the group who is now in college. The pair talked about their favorite books, the teen advisory group and the World Party it is planning on Saturday, and how the library is different from school.
"I'm actually thinking of being a librarian, because I've always loved libraries," Natalie said. "When I started volunteering and I met the librarians and volunteers at the library, I saw so much of myself in them."
In their StoryCorps discussion, Dean said her concept of libraries changed when she volunteered at a Harry Potter-themed children's event while she was in high school.
"The space was literally transformed and there were kids running around and they were smiling and having a good time and it all had to do with this wonderful book series," she said. "This library has redefined what a library is to me."
JOYCE GUNN AND PAULINE NOLTE
Gunn is a 68-year-old retired San Ramon library manager who lives in Pittsburg. Nolte is a 59-year-old Orinda resident who previously lived in San Ramon and was the president of the San Ramon Library Foundation and the Jazz Committee chair at the library. They talked about creating a unique jazz collection and a popular international storytelling program that included library sleepovers.
Nolte said the StoryCorps recording could give listeners a recap of the library's growth.
"If you want to tell somebody the history of the San Ramon library, where would you find it?" she said. "You would have to go through a whole file cabinet of everything we've ever done. But this is so awesome -- it's a condensed history of the San Ramon library!"
Gunn said the San Ramon library has great city support, volunteer groups and staff.
"I feel very privileged to have been recorded and to become part of a Library of Congress archive," she said. "To me, that's really an honor."
Details about StoryCorps are available by calling 800-850-4406 or by visiting http://storycorps.org.
The Pleasant Hill Library Teen Advisory Group invites the community to a World Party -- a multiethnic extravaganza, from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Pleasant Hill Library, 1750 Oak Park Blvd. in Pleasant Hill.
The community is also invited to the library system's 100th birthday celebration from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Pleasant Hill Park and Teen Center, 147 Gregory Lane in Pleasant Hill.
Additional information about the Contra Costa County library, including an online survey that can be completed through July 31, are available at http://www.ccclib.org.