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Best-Kept Book Lover's Secret 

Albany Branch of Alameda County Library

The Albany branch of the Alameda County library — a New Mexico adobe crossed with a minaret — is on Marin Avenue chock-a-block to the elevated BART tracks. The community center in the same building only adds to the library's ambience. The building is open even if the library is closed, which, thanks to Albany city funding, is seldom. You'll share the space with Friends of Five Creeks, yoga students, children's groups, a produce share, and other good people with good projects. The clean, large library houses a lot of videos, reading tables, study rooms with doors so that students can meet mentors, computers (wi-fi in the lobby), books for sale, a large children's section, and a kiosk entitled My Lucky Day, which contains books from your guilty-pleasures list. There are nearly as many new books as at Berkeley Main, minus the parking conundrum. For those who want to nosh, that section of Solano Avenue provides many treats, including teas, curries, floats, and salads. The library is even open Sunday afternoons; during the summer, an hour or so combing the shelves might take the chill off.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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