Who We Are and What We Do

FOPSL volunteers working on Bella Vista elementary school library - Summer 2014

FOPSL volunteers working on Bella Vista elementary school library – Summer 2014

Friends of the Oakland Public School Libraries (FOPSL) is working in partnership with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Library Services, individual donors, foundations, local businesses, principals, teachers, parents, community literacy partners and volunteers to create or modernize the physical library space. We believe the school library staffed by a professional teacher librarian is the most democratic, cost effective and efficient source for accessible information, literature, technology and expertise that supports the entire school community.


Provide every Oakland Unified School District student access to a quality school library.


The FOPSL Board of Directors meets monthly. In order to accomplish our mission we have established the following goals.

  • Work closely with OUSD Library Services and support all schools in OUSD to restore school libraries.
  • Ensure an up-to-date library at every OUSD school.
  • Advocate for quality trained staff in every OUSD library.
  • Upgrade and maintain upgraded OUSD libraries.
  • Build local/staff/parent support/ownership for school libraries.
  • Build community support for OUSD school libraries through education and involvement.
  • Collaborate with and seek community partners that share goals that benefit OUSD libraries.
  • Communicate the purpose of school libraries and FOPSL to the public.
  • Obtain additional resources to support FOPSL and OUSD libraries.
  • Support OUSD’s plan to incorporate the school library into the Full Service Community District Plan.
  • Advocate for every OUSD school library to open during hours indicated by California state law.



Kari Hatch, M.Ed., Executive Director of Friends of Oakland Public School Libraries. Kari is one of the original board members and chairs the Finance and Program Development Committee. Kari has been instrumental in building the infrastructure of FOPSL and developing the organization’s mission and vision statement, strategic plan, website and promotional materials. Kari works closely with OUSD Library Services to plan strategies to maintain and upgrade school libraries and advocate and seek local support at each site. Kari is currently credentialed to teach in California and New Mexico. She has spent over 20 years in the education field, teaching children in grades 1-8 in private, public, and parochial schools in New Mexico and Arizona, as well as graduate-level courses at the University of New Mexico. Kari has taken on numerous leadership roles over the years; chairing and serving on committees that designed school curriculum, assessed teacher accountability, planned professional development and organized fundraising events. After receiving her Masters of Education from Cambridge College, Massachusetts in 2001, Kari worked in the University of New Mexico Resident Teacher Master Degree Program where she provided instructional support by organizing and facilitating workshops, conferences, and seminars in collaboration with fellow Support Teachers, university faculty, public school faculty and administrators. Since arriving in Oakland in 2009, Kari has volunteered for many nonprofit literacy organizations in the Bay Area including: Reading Partners, Writer’s Coach Connection, Satellite Housing Intergenerational Project, and 826 Valencia, further broadening her awareness that educating our children is a public responsibility. Kari is a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is in the process of writing her first middle grade novel.

 Board of Directors

Charles E. Rath III, MD, Chair of FOPSL Board of Directors. Chip is one of the founding volunteers of FOPSL. Chip has Medical Specialty boards in internal medicine and emergency medicine, managed a private practice and worked in the Kaiser Hayward Emergency department.  Most recently he served in an executive position at Kaiser regional headquarters for The Permanente Medical Group.  He served for 5 years on the Board of Directors of the California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and was a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.  He was Chairman of the Board of the Emergency Medicine Research and Education Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, for 8 years. In 2011, he formed a group of knitters called the “Knit Wits” which has donated 700 scarves at the holidays to Project Open Hand, and more to Oakland woman and children’s shelters.

Thomas Kaun, M.S.L.S., Vice Chair of FOPSL Board of Directors. Tom served as a teacher librarian and classroom teacher for 40 years in public and private schools throughout California. He served on the board of the California School Library Association for several years and was the President of the Northern Section of CSLA. He retired from Tamalpais Union High School District. He is a member of the International Association of School Librarianship, the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians, and is an honorary member of CSLA and is currently serving on the board of the California School Library Foundation. He has presented at regional, state, national and international library conferences and served on the K-12 Advisory Council for EBSCO Information Services, a world-wide database company.

Shelby Solomon, M.S., Secretary of FOPSL Board of Directors. Shelby retired from Intel Corporation after a thirty year career working as a systems programmer, network designer, and strategic planner. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Sciences and Master of Science degree in Computer Science. Shelby also volunteers with the Bay Area Country Dance Society, where he serves as treasurer of the Family Week dance camp, and with the San Francisco Folk Music Club, where he has co-edited its newsletter for over twenty years. Shelby is a founding member of Friends of the Oakland Public School Libraries.

Elaine Wells, M.A., Treasurer of FOPSL Board of Directors. Elaine is a retired Speech/Language Pathologist with a Master’s degree from California State University San Francisco. She has worked in several settings including the public schools, Oakland Children’s Hospital, and her private practice. Elaine helped establish and was on the board of a school for special needs children. She was on the Advisory Board for the National Stuttering Association and also on the Board of America Scores, Bay Area which provides after school programs in low economic areas for soccer and literacy.

Ann Gallagher, M.L.S., Board Member of FOPSL Board of Directors. Ann served as District Librarian from 2007 until she retired in June of 2015. She has 25 years of experience as a middle and high school Teacher Librarian in Southern California and Maine. She has been associated with primary and secondary education and community development work all of her adult life, earning her MLS degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania in 1990. Previously she organized a state-wide conference on literacy, and served as a Member of the Board and trainer for Literacy Volunteers of America in Maine. Since coming to OUSD she has worked to educate the District decision–makers on the importance of building and maintaining school libraries, and has worked closely with community volunteers to provide support in the modernization and re-opening of school libraries. As District Librarian, Ann is responsible for the health and development of the District’s 75 library sites.

Joy Koletsky Jacobs, J.D., Board Member, Chair of Volunteer Recruitment Committee. Joy practiced law for 12 years in Washington D.C. as Associate General Counsel of the National Education Association and Legal Counsel for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. She relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where, while raising her family, she volunteered in many capacities and served on the Boards of Citizens Highly Interested in Music Education (CHIME), Temple Beth Abraham, the Piedmont Soccer Club, Wildwood Elementary and Piedmont Middle and High Schools. She has remained involved in the non-profit sector, working as a volunteer for TechSoup.org, the ACLU of Northern California and Friends of the Oakland Public School Libraries. Joy published a law review note on a school library censorship case and has volunteered in school libraries in Piedmont and Oakland, CA.

 Advisory Group

Susie (Marjorie) Cummings Goodin, Ph.D. – Professional Teacher Librarian and Educator. Dr. Susie Goodin completed her Ph.D. in Education at U.C. Berkeley in 2011, in the Language, Literacy and Culture field. Focusing on reading development and its link to school librarianship, she did original research and is published in several edited literacy books. Her primary consultant work and research projects in the last nine years have examined the literacy-school library connection. Currently she is a consulting research partner in a science text and literacy project for the Lawrence Hall of Science. She taught elementary school in Vermont and California where she developed and ran a K-6 math lab enrichment program, led a K-6 art docent program, wrote and administered resource grants for math and science instruction, and initiated grant proposals to establish school libraries where none existed. In the last 24 years she has run K-8 school libraries and worked as a consulting or founding librarian at two high schools. She has also chaired an independent school board, chaired a non-profit on behalf of Berkeley High School, and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Community Fund.

Randi (Raynor) Voorhies, M.L.I.S.—Professional Teacher Librarian and Educator. Randi was a middle school educator for thirty-five years, first as a classroom teacher and then as a teacher librarian. She has a MLIS from U.C. Berkeley. In collaboration with the tech coordinator and staff, she developed and implemented the information and educational technology program at Piedmont Middle School. In addition to her involvement with FOPSL, she volunteers for Oakland Public Library’s Books for Wider Horizons, Next Step Learning Center, and the East Bay Children’s Book Project.

Karen Smith, J.D. – Karen has a California Secondary Teaching Credential (in English) and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.  After teaching (in New York) and practicing law (in California), she has focused for the last 28 years on school libraries, partnering with other professionals to establish and expand elementary and middle school libraries, providing professional support for public and private high school libraries, and most recently, working with FOPSL to refurbish and upgrade elementary and high school libraries in OUSD.  She has been involved in various educational programs in the Bay Area, including the Writer Coach Connection at Berkeley High School, and as a docent for the Bay Interpretive Training Program at the Nature Center and Golden Gate Audubon’s Burrowing Owl monitoring project at Cesar Chavez Park, both in Berkeley.  She has devoted a significant amount of time in the last two years on conservation issues, taking a leadership role in working to protect rare native habitats in the Bay Area from development.

History of FOPSL

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Librarian Ann Gallagher began assembling a group of dedicated school library volunteers in 2009 to rehabilitate outdated and unused libraries at various schools in the district. OUSD libraries had been in decline for over a decade as a result of reduced school library funding and staffing, due to severe state and federal budget cuts, the downturn in the economy, and district re-organizations. In the years 2009-2011, these volunteers rehabilitated eight OUSD libraries (Garfield, Grass Valley, Howard, Marshall, Reach Academy, and Sankofa elementary schools and Frick and Madison middle schools).

In 2011, it became clear that the work of automating, restocking, and refurbishing the physical space was not sufficient to produce operating libraries. Quality school library programs are developed and sustained by professional teacher librarians for adequate hours to meet the needs of the children and teachers. However, library staffing continued to deteriorate around the district. As of the 2011-2012 school years, there was only one full-time and two part-time librarians employed in school libraries in OUSD. To address the issues of staffing and sustaining school libraries, some of the volunteers approached the Montclair Community Action Committee (now Volunteering for Oakland) on possible actions to take, but it became apparent that the magnitude and scope of the work required a separate organization, with connections to other community groups doing related work.

FOPSL is Born

Friends of the Oakland Public School Libraries (FOPSL), is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that works to ensure every OUSD student has equal access to a quality school library staffed by a professional teacher librarian. 

As of fall 2014, 28% of the 75 school libraries necessary to provide services to all OUSD students, are still closed. We know that school libraries support literacy by providing equal access to information in all its formats, i.e. online databases, information technology, books, etc. In partnership with OUSD Library Services, FOPSL has completely restored, modernized and/or provided support for the opening of over 26 school libraries in Oakland’s most economically challenged schools. Due to our efforts, over 12,000 students, families and school communities can now have access to an updated, resource rich school library.

FOPSL is committed to assisting OUSD in providing professionally staffed quality school libraries to support reading, information literacy, Common Core Curriculum, District initiatives, teachers, students and so much more.



  1. This website is looking beautiful and excellently showcases all the progress being made!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: