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Free libraries open in two Fresno Housing Authority properties

Mike Farber is the inspiration behind free public mini-libraries that will open in two Fresno Housing Authority properties.
Mike Farber is the inspiration behind free public mini-libraries that will open in two Fresno Housing Authority properties. Fresno Housing Authority

Two Fresno Housing Authority properties are getting libraries thanks to a donation from Francine and Murray Farber of Fresno in honor of their son who was an avid reader and advocate for low-income and homeless causes.

Mike’s Books will open March 14 at Cedar Courts in southeast Fresno and the second location will follow at Sequoia Courts in southwest Fresno. A grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting, held by the Fresno Housing Education Corps, is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. March 14 at Cedar Courts, 4430 E. Hamilton Ave.

The free library, about the size of a small conference room, is stocked with books focused on helping children in kindergarten through third grade read, the housing authority said. More than 200 children will have access to the libraries.

“These libraries will contribute to the vision of Fresno Housing and the Farbers to promote reading skills among children living at affordable housing communities,” the housing authority said in a news release.

Part-time assistant librarians and volunteers will staff the new mini-libraries. Books and volunteers were provided through the Housing Authority’s partnerships with United Way, Reading Heart and other agencies.

The libraries are named for Michael E. Farber of Oakland who died in 1996 from cancer. While living in Eugene, OR., Farber was instrumental in saving a vacant municipal building and turning it into a preschool. Later, when he moved to the San Francisco Bay area, he became a community leader for Rubicon, Inc. where he created housing for struggling families and for disabled and poor people.

His work led to the creation of the Rubicon Bakery to provide job training and income for hard-to-employ workers. The model was adopted by the REDF Foundation which launched the Farber interns program to bring masters of business administration students, who want to explore careers in social enterprise, to California.

Farber’s parents and a sister live in Fresno and have supported projects in his name.

BoNhia Lee: 559-441-6495, @bonhialee

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