Reading Is Instrumental: All-Star Storytime

Contact: Tess Mayer
Director of Library Services
Berkeley Public Library

All-Star Storytime Series with the Berkeley Symphony begins Friday

Berkeley, California (September 23, 2020) -- Join the virtual family fun with Reading Is Instrumental, a weekly musical storytime produced by the Berkeley Public Library Foundation and Berkeley Symphony.

The series streams live on the Berkeley Public Library’s Facebook Page on Fridays at 11am, beginning September 25.

Each week a Bay Area celebrity will read a beloved children’s book with musical accompaniment by members of the Berkeley Symphony. The all-star line-up of readers includes:

• Rita Moreno, Actor
• Maxine Hong Kingston, Author with Earll Kingston, Actor
• Andy Samberg, Comedian/actor
• Joseph Young, Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony
• Michael Kwende, Berkeley Public Library Children’s Librarian
• Thacher Hurd, Illustrator/author
• Marcus Semien, Shortstop and third baseman, Oakland Athletics (Oakland A’s)

“Storytime is one of the keys to literacy. Music and words together are a magical combination,” notes Kathy Huff, Berkeley Public Library Foundation Executive Director. “We are incredibly grateful for all who have agreed to help make this fun program happen during these exceptional times. We all need stories and music to keep our spirits up, but our kids and families who are at home need them now more than ever.”

Many of the books read during Reading Is Instrumental will be recognizable to patrons of all ages such as Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, Baby’s Got the Blues by Carol Diggory Shields, and Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora. Reading Is Instrumental may also introduce viewers to new titles. For example, comedian/ actor Andy Samberg will read his longtime pal Jorma Taccone’s new book, Little Fox and the Wild Imagination and Thacher Hurd will read his own award-winning book, Mama Don’t Allow, about a swamp band and alligators who love the saxophone.

Berkeley Symphony artistic director Rene Mandel worked closely with each all-star reader for every episode of Reading Is Instrumental to choose the pieces of music and instrument(s) to best complement the story and enhance the storytime experience. Listeners of all ages will be sure to enjoy this uplifting virtual program.

“Berkeley Symphony is proud to partner with the Berkeley Public Library Foundation on this exciting new project that combines the art of story-telling with live music performance,” said Music Director Joseph Young. “There is no better time for our friends and family to come together virtually and see that arts are alive and well in Berkeley.”

For questions regarding Reading Is Instrumental and other Library programs, services and collections, please call 510.981.6100 during Central Open Hours: Monday, 12:00-8:00 pm; Tuesday, 10:00 am-8:00 pm; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 10:00 am-6:00 pm. For Library locations, Outdoor Pickup hours, Library Collections and the Event Calendar listing other virtual programs including additional storytimes, visit the Library’s website: www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org.


New Virtual Tutoring Assistance Offered 7 Days a Week

Contact: Elliot Warren
Acting Director of Library Services
Berkeley Public Library

New Virtual Tutoring Assistance Offered 7 Days a Week

Berkeley, California September 15, 2020—Berkeley Public Library patrons now have access to live, virtual tutoring assistance Monday through Sunday from 1:00-10:00 PM with the e-resource, Brainfuse HelpNow.

Access to Brainfuse is made possible by the generous support of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation.

Brainfuse offers support for a range of students’ needs, including the following:

• One-to-one homework help on a variety of subjects
• California State standards–aligned skills building, test preparation, and comprehensive writing assistance
• Expert support on math, science, social studies, and writing. 

Additionally, Brainfuse offers Spanish-language lessons, online study groups, virtual flashcards, and support for English Language Learners.

Brainfuse’s Adult Learning Center offers academic and career support with computer literacy assistance, test practice, writing assistance, resume and cover letter-writing, and live interview coaching.

“This is such a challenging and unique time; we knew that the Library had to respond strategically with a virtual product to help our community’s students who are learning in new ways and in environments outside the traditional classroom,” notes Supervising Librarian Heather Cummins. “By offering Brainfuse HelpNow, we can support our community’s students, caregivers, educators, and library partners with an excellent, high quality academic resource.”

Specific topics and subjects Brainfuse covers include:

• Math, including Algebra I & II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, and Statistics (including AP Levels)
• Science, including General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Sciences (including AP Levels)
• Social Studies, including Political Science, World History, U.S. History, State History, and Geography (Including AP Levels)
• English as a Second Language
• English/Language Arts (vocabulary, grammar, literature, and reading comprehension)
• A Writing Lab, which includes help with term papers, literature and poetry analysis, book reports and bibliographies, speechwriting, presentations, formatting (APA, Chicago Style, and MLA formatting), lab reports, and college application essays
• Foreign Language Assistance: Homework help for students taking a foreign language class (currently offered for Spanish)
• Academic and professional test preparation, including the SAT, ACT, GED, ASVAB, USCIS (citizenship), HiSet, TASC, GRE, TOEFL, and college placement tests (COMPASS/ACCUPLACER)
• Digital Literacy, including help with Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel)
• Career Services, including support with Cover Letters, Resumes, and Business Writing

Brainfuse is one of many tools – e-resources and virtual and physical collections – offered by the Library to support the educational achievement interests of Berkeley students. The Library is committed to collections and e-resources that support social and racial equity; that provide excellent, timely, and easily-accessible service and information; and that bolster individual and community growth, learning, and exploration.

“Brainfuse is another wonderful example of one of the many tools the Library can use to serve our community and live out its commitment to inclusion,” says Kathy Huff, Executive Director of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation. “The Foundation remains steadfast in doing all that it can to support the Library during these extraordinary times and beyond.”

For questions regarding Brainfuse HelpNow and other Library services and collections, please call 510-981-6100 during Central Open Hours: Monday, 12:00-8:00 pm; Tuesday, 10:00 am-8:00 pm; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 10:00 am-6:00 pm.

For Library locations and Outdoor Pickup hours, visit the Library’s website: www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org.