Part of the library's role in today's underfunded, cash-strapped library world is to educate the public, community groups and elected officials at the city, county, state and federal levels of government about how vital we are to their communities. One tradition California libraries participate in each year is called "Legislative Day in the District," in which library staff, Friends of Library folk and library commissioners meet with elected representatives in our communities. We let them know what we're doing, what we need and ask whether there's anything they can do to help.

I had the pleasure of attending meetings with Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, a couple of weeks ago for this year's Legislative Day to press the case for libraries in East Contra Costa County. We are incredibly fortunate to have two staunch library supporters representing us in Sacramento.

Both took a great interest in how Contra Costa County libraries are faring. Assemblyman Frazier, an Oakley resident and former Oakley council member and mayor, knows firsthand about the need for Oakley to have a new library. He listened attentively to our concerns for much-needed new buildings in both Oakley and Brentwood. His office has worked closely with us to both publicize and support our activities, and we look forward to continuing this strong relationship.

Sen. DeSaulnier covers a larger swath of the county in his district, and he heard about the needs of all libraries in Contra Costa County. He had already been considering putting a library construction bond measure on the ballot, and said he would move forward with just that.

SB 1455 was introduced before the Feb. 21 deadline to introduce new legislation in the 2014 session. Details of the bill will be worked out over the next couple of months, but it is encouraging to know that our local leaders are willing to step up to the plate for county libraries.

ESL Conversation Circle: The Brentwood Library, in partnership with Delta First 5, now hosts a weekly conversation circle for people trying to improve their English language skills.

The library facilitates the discussion, and First 5 provides space for us to meet and free child care. The group met for the first time Feb. 20, and enjoyed speaking to one another in a safe, relaxed environment. We will continue to meet weekly on Thursdays, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at Delta First 5, 760 First St. in Brentwood.

Participants need to register for the program through First 5, and can obtain registration forms either at the Brentwood Library or Delta First 5. For more information, please call Liz Fuller at 925-516-5294 or email her at lfuller@ccclib.org.

Free Homework Help:The Brentwood Library now offers free homework help for students twice a week inside the library. Two local teens are volunteering their time to assist students with their homework from 4-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

They will help students with math, English, history and science homework questions. Help will be given on a first-come, first-served basis, and no registration is required. Call Michiko Sumi at 925-516-5290 or email her at msumi@ccclib.org.

Reach Liz Fuller at 925-516-5294 or at lfuller@ccclib.org.