Alameda County Libraries offer free passes

MONTCLARION: August 18, 2011

In my parents’ town of Chanhassen, Minn., the heart of the community is the library. It’s well funded and beautifully decorated and serves as a great place to gather.

Several years ago, the libraries in their county partnered with Target to offer free passes to dozens of museums in Minneapolis and St. Paul. My family and I made the rounds — touring the Twin Cities without spending a dime. It was a beautiful thing.

Finally, a similar program has kicked off this week in Alameda County. Launched by the Contra Costa County Library, Discover & Go started Monday in our Alameda County libraries ( If you live here and have a library card, you can make reservations online for everything from the Oakland Museum to the Aquarium of the Bay.

The offerings even include the quirky Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, where the current exhibit features 70 years of Archie comic strips. You get a maximum of two passes for two different venues at a time, and you’re eligible for more once those passes are used.

My only complaint is that we aren’t offered free Freight & Salvage tickets like the folks get in Contra Costa County.

Still, it’s a welcome freebie to get us through the dog days of summer.

AROUND TOWN: First Republic Bank is open for business in the old Blockbuster building (2110 Mountain Blvd.)

The Montclair branch is the bank’s 33rd location in the Bay Area and will be managed by three women who have, collectively, 71 years of financial-service experience. Let’s welcome Silvia Fernandez, Iris Chavarria and Martha Johnson Mastracci to our village.

WINE AND ROSES: Debbra and Don Lindo are sharing their beautiful garden for an Oakland schools fundraiser from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Many of Oakland’s movers and shakers will be there, including Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who seems to be everywhere these days. That’s no easy trick when you have young children, but Schaaf has a strong support system — a husband who doesn’t mind covering for mom on council nights and during special events.

GAS SIPPERS: You may have seen them on some of the East Bay’s more scenic routes — pods of scooters on rides organized by scooter enthusiast Kristin Gallagher. As the manager of Vespa Walnut Creek (sister shop to Rockridge Two Wheels), she plans day trips to places like Brentwood and Sunol, along routes that wind through forested canyons and traverse the East Bay hills.

If you’d like to join her next scooter ride, (anyone with a 150-cc engine is welcome) check out the scooter shop’s Facebook page.



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