Libris abundus: Last month, the Oakland Public Library barely escaped Death by Budget Cut. Instead of closing seven of the fourteen branches, as first proposed, city pencil pushers nixed part-time jobbers and shortened business hours. Yet next year's budget for new books still faces a $1.3 million trim. Can you spell O-U-C-H?
So it surprised a few bookworms last week when fliers appeared in branches announcing the arrival of three hundred brand-spankin'-new hardcover copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix -- the largest onetime purchase of any title in the library's history. J.K. Rowling commands a rabid audience and encourages children to read, sure, but so does the National Enquirer.
"This was a decision we had to think about long and hard," says Leslie Rodd, the administrative librarian who oversees the children's reading list. "We knew some people would criticize us for choosing this book."
Or three hundred of this book.
Rodd says the library's book-buyers used money from a coffer of donations that can be spent at the executive director's discretion. Even after a hefty discount from the publisher, the city still paid $5,307 for the blockbuster book, copies of which were distributed evenly among branches last Saturday.
By comparison, the library's largest purchase in recent memory, at 150 copies, was John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. After a year on the shelves, however, the new editions of Steinbeck's classic haven't exactly provoked children and parents to wait in block-long lines just to put their names on a waiting list.
Potter, Rodd says, is a sure thing when it comes to attracting new customers. "We're responding to the fact that Harry Potter has revived the joy of reading in children," she says. "It was well worth it to make kids happy." -- Justin Berton
We the People's Lawyer: So Mayor Moonbeam wants to be attorney general? Jerry Brown sure isn't discouraging the rumors. He's admitted his interest in returning to the state capital as California's top cop to the Chron and KGO radio. We've also discovered that Brown reactivated his bar license last month so he can practice as a general attorney before he becomes attorney general. Seems a little premature, considering incumbent Bill Lockyer won't be termed out until '06. Why would Jerry possibly need to reactivate when he's still got, oh, three more years left on his mayoral watch? Here are some possibilities:
* Wants to appear as legal pundit on Fox News to talk about the Laci Peterson case and get closer to that sexy Greta van Susteren.
* Plans to represent his freedom-fry-eating aide de camp, Jacques Barzaghi, in next sexual harassment case.
* Wants to improve chances of becoming the next district attorney on Law & Order.
* Will finally show that dang city attorney who's the boss -- and it ain't Tony Danza.
* Plans to moonlight as an ambulance chaser: We the People's Lawyer.
* Wants to sue his hairstylist personally. That way, they'll both have fools for clients.
Alas, Jerry's flak, Erica Harrold, rudely disrupted our reveries by informing 7 Days the mayor indeed renewed with an eye toward the AG race, and adding that Jerry is in fact prohibited from practicing law while mayor. But to seize an astrological moment here, Mr. Mayor, let us suggest that attorney general may not be in the stars. Can you say "Rose Bird"? No matter. As an Aries -- the ram -- you should be making a bolder move, one more in line with your temperament. What if your old chief of staff, Gray Davis, gets recalled? Wouldn't you like to live in the governor's mansion again? Of course you would. You could even bring Jacques along with you. He doesn't really do anything around here anyway. -- Will Harper
Double dealing: Ace of spades: Saddam Hussein. Nine of diamonds: Vice President Taha Muhyi Al-Din Maruf. Three of hearts: National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice?
Oops! Wrong deck.
Seven Days - December 8, 2:33 PM
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Seven Days - December 4, 8:35 AM