Library News

  • image of hands holding a video game controller with text: Video Games

Library Launches Video Game Collection

Sonoma County Library is excited to announce the launch of a new circulating video game collection. Games are becoming an increasingly important way people learn, interact, and have fun, addressing such educational needs as:

  • Games make learning fun by lowering the emotional stakes of failing, and players take risks and learn through trial and error.
  • Games have an infinite range of solutions, just like real life.
  • In the game world, players make their own discoveries and apply what they learn to new contexts.
  • When a player enters a game, they begin identifying core conditions and look for problems that must be addressed.
  • Games are a mode of active engagement. They encourage experimentation and risk-taking, and they view the process of solving a problem as important as finding the answer.
  • Games span across language barriers, and players do not necessarily need to speak English to participate.

According to the latest survey by the Entertainment Software Association, 67 percent of households own a device used to play video games. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the time Americans spend playing video and board games has risen 50 percent since 2003.

The Library’s Video Games collection intends to meet the needs of the gamers in our community, while providing access to high-quality educational and entertainment games. The collection has games available for two gaming platforms: Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The focus of the initial collection is video games for youth, including games rated EC (Early Childhood), E (Everyone), and E10+ (Everyone 10+) by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. We plan to expand the collection to include games for teen and adult patrons in the next year. Find out which games we own, where they are located, and place your hold today:



  • book cover Kindred with Sonoma County Reads logo

"Sonoma County Reads" Brings the Community Together to Read "Kindred"

The Sonoma County Library urges all residents to join in this year’s selection for “Sonoma County Reads”—Octavia Butler’s Kindred, or Parentesco in Spanish. The 2018 community read begins in October and continues into December, with book discussion events and multiple copies of the book available at your local library branch.

Butler’s book is a tale of Dana, a modern black woman who suddenly transports via time-travel from her home in Los Angeles to a pre-Civil War Maryland plantation. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, has somehow summoned her across time to save him from drowning. After this first summons, she is drawn back repeatedly to protect Rufus and ensure he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana’s ancestor.  First published in 1979, Kindred explores a number of questions about the legacy of slavery in the United States, gender, race, and power, historical memory and trauma, and the meaning of freedom through a fascinating combination of time travel story and slave narrative.

Since 2003, the Sonoma County Library has brought a county-wide “community read” program to the residents of Sonoma County. The goal is to foster a common culture through reading a common title, to open avenues of conversation, and to encourage reading. The program is a community effort, and the Library’s partners include Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.

“We have read a wide variety of wonderful books over the past 15 years,” notes Adult Services Administrator Morgan Rose Pershing, “including The Call of the Wild by our own Jack London, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and the poems of Emily Dickinson.”

This year’s selection is available in both Spanish and English, and the Library will have many copies in each language. “There will even be some available for free, thanks to the support of Measure Y,” notes Pershing. “We’re encouraging readers to pick up a copy, read it, and pass it on!”

Please visit the Sonoma County Reads Facebook page to see more upcoming events and offerings.

Sonoma County Library adds film-streaming service Kanopy

Thanks to support from Measure Y, Sonoma County Library now offers library users free access to the popular on-demand film streaming service Kanopy. With a Sonoma County library card, patrons can easily stream and enjoy more than 30,000 of the world’s best films, including award-winning documentaries, rare and hard-to-find titles, film festival favorites, the Criterion collection, indie and classic films, and world cinema. 

Kanopy aims to provide “thoughtful entertainment” by offering access to films of unique social and cultural value; films that are often difficult or impossible to access elsewhere, and inclusive programming that features foreign language films and films on race, culture and current affairs. Kanopy’s dedication to thoughtful entertainment includes educational and engaging videos for children through Kanopy Kids. This collection of titles for children of all ages includes PBS Kids programming and encourages social and emotional development, promotes respect for community diversity and inspires creativity.  Kanopy is also compatible for hearing-impaired (with captions and transcripts) and visually-impaired patrons (compatible with technologies such as JAWS).

To use Kanopy, all users need is a valid library card, an email address and an internet connection. Visit to access Kanopy and sign up to start streaming films instantly. Each Sonoma County Library cardholder can stream Kanopy to watch up to six films, each with a three-day loan period and access to two Great Courses per month. Film credits are then refreshed on the first of the month. Stream whenever and wherever you like through your web browser or the Kanopy app available in the App StoreGoogle Play StoreRoku and Amazon Fire Tablet.

Start streaming now!

Halloween and Day of the Dead Celebrations

Join us in celebrating the change of the seasons with events and resources to get you and your family into that fall spirit. Enjoy Halloween- and Día de los Muertos-themed activities for the whole family taking place in a Library location near you. 

Halloween Fun

  • For costume and face-painting ideas, watch these videos from our Kanopy streaming video service.
  • Have your own Halloween movie night with selections from our Kanopy and Hoopla collections. Or, listen to these fun tales on your phone or tablet.
  • We also have some great new Halloween books too!
  • Beyond getting your fill of books, movies, and music to inspire a spooktacular month, here are a few fun programs popping up before the trick-or-treaters hit the streets–-from ghostly story times to puppet shows, and more. Here’s the complete schedule of upcoming events:

Día de los Muertos Events & Programs

 El Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead honors the memory of loved ones who have passed away, and the Library celebrates this tradition with cultural stories, celebrations, and crafts.

  • colorful flowers surround invitation to NOrthwest 50th Anniversary event on October 13

Northwest Library Celebrates 50 Years of Serving the Public

The Northwest Santa Rosa Regional Library building marks its 50th anniversary with a public celebration on Saturday, October 13.

The Northwest Branch of the Sonoma County Library has been providing library services to the citizens of Santa Rosa since 1968. Prior to Coddingtown Mall construction, the region in which the Northwest Library resides was farmland largely devoted to prune orchards. A 1963 General Plan called for building three Santa Rosa libraries, in addition to a Central library. Three years later, focus turned to a library to serve the northwest Santa Rosa area. The shopping center's location was chosen for its easy freeway access and plentiful parking.

The 8,000-square-foot one-story brown building opened Oct. 14, 1968 with a collection of 13,000 books. A mural commissioned to honor the memory of a beloved children’s librarian, Janet Guerrini, was dedicated in November 1995. In early 2018, the library closed for a three-month renovation, resulting in reconfigured and enhanced spaces for children and teens, newly installed carpeting and furnishings, and improved disability access and seismic retrofitting. The library serves residents of numerous senior housing complexes and workers at multiple government offices including the Social Security and County Administrative complex. Visitors from Santa Rosa district schools, the Santa Rosa Junior College and area preschools find books, use computers and attend library programs in the library. 

The Northwest Regional Library’s 50th Anniversary Celebration will be held on Saturday, October 13; join us for festivities all day long, including:

  • Muralist and local artist, Dave Gordon at 11:00 am: Discuss the arts and the library mural he created for the Northwest library.
  • Cake-cutting and commemoration at 12:00 PM
  • SNOOPY in person at 12:30 PM
  • 60's Dance Party at 2:00 pm Come dance the afternoon away with a Local band the Remedies.
  • Sound of Music- all day! Take a seat and enjoy this iconic film from the 60's.
  • Scavenger Hunt - all day! Find our special resources to win prizes and enter a raffle.

Come walk down memory lane with us, and celebrate the impact the Library has made on the residents of Santa Rosa and the Sonoma County community! 

Teen Librarians Share Recommendations for Teen Read Week 2018


It's time for BOOKCHATS!~ 

Our dedicated and passionate Teen Services staff will be sharing their book recommendations all week long to celebrate this year's Teen Read Week!



Vincent and Theo:  The Van Gogh Brothers, by Deborah Heiligman

"Get a sneak peek into Vincent Gogh’s life and the road he traveled to become the artist he is known for today. Vincent’s story should never be told without his brother, Theo, because without Theo, he would not be the artist he is today.  After reading this book I really wanted to visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam to see his paintings in real life.  A must read!"

~recommended by Youth Services Librarian Tiffany B. from Windsor Regional Library

 Here to Stay by Sara Farizan 

"Teen Read Week is here! What are you reading? I went for this new release from the author of If You Could Be Mine.

Bijan just wants to play basketball, but when he makes the winning basket for the Varsity team, he is no longer able to fly under that radar. How will he deal with his new found popularity? Find out by reading Here to Stay by Sara Farizan available now @ Sonoma County Library."

~recommended by Nicole F., Teen Services Librarian at Rincon Valley Regional Library



“Heap House”, written and illustrated by Edward Carey

In an alternate reality of Victorian London, the Iremonger family has an agreement with Queen Victoria. The Iremongers do not go into London, and in return they control the “Heaps” of trash that surround the city. Each Iremonger is given a Birth Object from the Heaps that they must carry at all times. When Clod Iremonger starts to hear other people’s Birth Objects speak, he begins to uncover old and dark secrets about his family. 

“Heap House” is a first in a trilogy. If you like weird fiction, creepy drawings, and great world building, this series is for you.

~recommended by Melissa C., Teen Services Librarian at Guerneville Regional Library


The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater

I remember reading the news about this terrible event a few years ago. As soon as the book was published I couldn’t wait to read it. The 57 Bus did not disappoint. It’s a great book that fairly discusses all the angles of the story.

~recommended by Rachel I., Educational Initiatives Librarian at Sonoma County Library Headquarters


What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

This book is an amazing debut novel about Elizabeth, a 16-year-old with anorexia. The book takes place over a few months in a treatment center for eating disorders. Elizabeth is likable and sad and funny and complex and most of all, REAL. I was totally lost in her world while reading this book.

~recommended by Katie D., Youth Selection Librarian at Sonoma County Library Headquarters

If you love podcasts like Serial, In the Dark, or My Favorite Murder, you'll be totally absorbed by Courtney Summers' new YA thriller "Sadie." The story revolves around 19-year-old Sadie and her bold, reckless quest to find the killer who took the life of her younger sister, Mattie. Meanwhile, a curious journalist creates a podcast looking into Mattie's murder and Sadie's subsequent disappearance. We see the mystery unfold not just through Sadie's eyes but through the perspective of family, neighbors, and nemeses who participate in the podcast.

This novel is taut, intense, and beautifully written. The author creates an unforgettable character in Sadie - she's tough and driven, exasperated by a stutter that affects how strangers treat her. Her determination is what makes us root for her and fret when she makes rash decisions.

This gritty and un-put-down-able thriller is the perfect way to kick off the Fall season!

~recommended by Allison P., Teen Services Librarian at Healdsburg Regional Library

Celebrate Teen Read Week and National Hispanic Heritage Month (9/15-10/15) with The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. This is an #ownvoices novel in verse that will feel accessible whether or not you regularly read poetry. The first person narrative follows a teenager named Xiomara Batista as she rebels against her conservative religious Dominican family and learns to express herself through slam poetry. 

~recommended by Stuart W., Teen Services Librarian at Central Santa Rosa Library

Teen Read Week - It's Written in the Stars!


Teen Read Week is a national literacy initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association that is aimed at teens, their parents, librarians, educators, booksellers and other concerned adults. Teen Read Week was started in 1998. The continuing message of the Teen Read Week initiative is to encourage 12-18 year olds to "Read For The Fun Of It".

Teen Read Week takes place during October 7-13 this year, with a theme of “It’s Written in the Stars: READ”! Stop by your library today to find something great to read for your enjoyment. We have something for everyone, including folklore, fantasy titles, adventure books, sci-fi stories and more!

Teen Read Week is also when teens across the nation are encouraged to VOTE on the Teens' Top Ten. The Teens' Top Ten is a "teen choice" list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year.


Together at the Table Grant Concludes

The final grant paperwork for the $25k Together at the Table LSTA grant in 2017-18 has been completed. Through the grant year, we found that our community was hungry for opportunities like this to talk about important issues in a safe environment. It was heartening to see people expressing differing opinions about hot-button topics and feel respected and heard, even if they did not agree with others' opinions. We did, as expected, field some negative public feedback from individuals who did not like our choice of topics, or who questioned the scope of our project. We responded by being as inclusive as possible, and by inviting these individuals to attend our events to share their differing opinions and to submit ideas for future topics of discussion. We look forward to continuing to offer community conversations around important topics moving forward.

If you're interested in the grant details ...


Outputs from the 2017-18 grant included:

  • 852 books were purchased on Together at the Table topics to add to circulating library collections
  • 3,750 circulations of Together at the Table materials were generated over the life of the grant period
  • 12 community conversation events were held at 12 library locations countywide, on topics including climate change, immigration, blackness in America, women’s rights, LGBTQI, and income inequality.
  • 355 people attended these community conversation events
  • 30 community partnerships were established, including:
    • SSU Center for Environmental Inquiry
    • Sonoma Clean Power
    • Regional Climate Protection Authority
    • Center for Climate Protection
    • County of Sonoma Energy & Sustainability Division
    • Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District
    • Transition Sonoma Valley
    • Catholic Charities Immigration Services
    • Sonoma County Immigration Initiative
    • Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department
    • My American Dreams Project
    • SSU Department of Chicano and Latino Studies
    • Santa Rosa-Sonoma County NAACP
    • Sonoma County Black Forum
    • SSU American Multicultural Studies Department
    • Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County
    • Racial Justice Allies of Sonoma County
    • ACLU of Northern California
    • League of Women Voters of Sonoma County
    • Sonoma County Chapter of the National Organization for Women
    • National Women’s History Project
    • YWCA Sonoma County
    • County of Sonoma Commission on the Status of Women
    • LGBTQ Connection
    • Positive Images
    • SSU Department of Women’s & Gender Studies
    • California Labor Commission
    • North Bay Jobs with Justice        
    • Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board
    • Sonoma County Economic Development Board



  • 58% of surveyed attendees of Together at the Table events reported an increase in knowledge about the topics presented and discussed.
  • 86% of surveyed attendees of Together at the Table events reported an increase in understanding of the mission, goals, and priorities of local organizations and agencies providing resources on each topic.

While the results of our first outcome was slightly lower than our expectations, our second outcome exceeded the expectations and goals of the project; we feel this is a valuable outcome for it demonstrates how this project helped to connect and engage participants with the community organizations who were our partners. We look forward to using what we learned from this experience to continue and expand future Together at the Table community civic engagement.


Going Forward

The Together at the Table concept will continue to be used at SCL. We are soliciting suggestions from our community for new topics to explore and discuss together at the systemwide level, and we are embracing other issue-based events and programming to continue to explore topics of social justice together with our communities. Look for quarterly topics and events with community partners to continue the great range of community conversations in 2019. 

  • free access to new research products

Library Offers Four New Britannica Resources

Sonoma County Library and the California State Library bring you the Britannica Suite for your educational research and report building needs!  We have four new products to help make homework easier to research, create and present.  This suite is for all ages.

Britannica School: a comprehensive online encyclopedia with articles, images, and videos for Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Escolar: a Spanish-language research resource for Elementary through middle school students.

Britannica Academic: The all in one online encyclopedia, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, magazine and newspaper articles for adult learners. All of the material is selected by notable experts.

ImageQuest: Millions of right free images to use for educational, non-commercial use. Make your reports and presentations shine with the vast array of images available to download and use.

Discover, learn, and share with your free access to the Britannica suite!

  • author Anastasia Higginbotham and her latest book Ordinary Terrible Things

Meet the Author: Anastasia Higginbotham

Join us for a special opportunity to meet acclaimed children's author and illustrator Anastasia Higginbotham.

Higginbotham's presents Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness. It’s the fourth and latest book in her Ordinary Terrible Things series, which takes a child-centered approach to focus on the importance of resiliency and coping in the face of adversity. In the book a white child sees TV coverage of a police shooting — and has some questions. Not My Idea invites families to acknowledge the ways white children are conditioned to feel apart from conversations about race.

In the workshops, Higginbotham will present her latest book, and will lead a collage activity focused on identifying and processing emotional experiences. 

These author visits will take place at the following dates and locations:

  • Healdsburg Library                       Monday, October 1, at 10:00 am (grades K-6)
  • Northwest Library                        Monday, October 1, at 4:00 pm (grades K-6)
  • Central Library in Santa Rosa        Monday, October 1, 2018 at 7:00 pm (this event is targeted for adults)
  • Sonoma Valley Library                  Tuesday, October 2, at 11:00 am (grades K-6)
  • Sebastopol Library                       Tuesday, October 2 at 3:30 pm (grades K-6)

Higginbotham is the author and illustrator of Divorce is the WorstDeath is Stupid and Tell Me About Sex, Grandma — all part of the critically-acclaimed Ordinary Terrible Things series. She lives in Brooklyn.


This author series is made possible with support from Measure Y. Thank you, Sonoma County voters!