The Alameda Free Library has organized several special events for the next few weeks. Adults and children 10 and up are invited to a one-hour performance of "Julius Caesar" at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Main Library. The play is being produced and presented by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. Space is limited, so guests are encouraged to arrive early.

The Alameda Police Department presents a public forum on automated license plate readers at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3 in the Main Library conference room. The forum will include presentations by the Alameda Police Department, the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. Residents can read about the license-plate readers online at

At 7 p.m. Feb. 4, the West End Library will host Erica Ward and Ross Thompson of the Alameda String Academy, who will perform music from Astor Piazzolla's "Histoire de Tango" for violin and guitar, as well as Appalachian songs by America composer Robert Beaser and new works by Thompson.

Ward, a violinist, is the director of the Alameda String Academy, and studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. English-born composer and guitarist Thompson teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory. He studied there and at the Royal College of Music in London.

The library also wants Alamedans to know that its computers can be used to access the Ancestry Library Edition database for genealogical research. The database includes information from several countries, as well from a variety of U.S. sources.

Around the corner at City Hall, the City of Alameda's Public Art Commission is set to meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 29 about two prosed works of art. One is a kinetic sculpture made of titanium and stainless-steel metals to be located at the back of Cardinal Point, 2400 Mariner Square Dr., along the waterfront. The other is a mural to be made by artist Ken Carvalho to be displayed at the Walgreens building, now under construction at 1600 Park St.

Meanwhile, over at Redux Studios & Gallery on Lincoln Avenue, hands-on artistic workshops are planned. One workshop will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Visitors can stop by to learn about painting with watercolor, acrylic and natural dyes. At the same time on the following Sunday, Feb. 2, residents can drop in to pick out old prints that can be turned into more contemporary art pieces by painting, drawing or collage work.

The Frank Bette Center for the Arts on Paru Street is hosting the closing-bid gala for its Déjà Vu Silent Auction fundraiser from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. The center also invites community members to submit applications by Feb. 2 for its Alameda on Camera event, slated for Feb. 21-23.

Virago Theatre Company presents Giuseppe Verdi's "Il Trovatore," a tale of rivalry and passion, at the Elks Ballroom on Santa Clara Avenue. The production is directed by Ellen St. Thomas and conducted by Robert Ashens. Shows take place at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 and Feb 7, as well as at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2 and 9. Guests can meet the conductor at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31, and there will be a champagne reception following the first performance.

The opera, which will be sung in Italian with English subtitles, tells the story of the vengeful gypsy Azucena, and her son Manrico's romance with the noblewoman Leonora, as well as his rivalry with the Count di Luna. The cast features Eileen Meredith as Leonora, Alex Boyer as Manrico, Jo Vincent Parks as Count di Luna and Elizabeth Baker as Azucena.

Janet Levaux also writes the Alameda Journal Blog at