"I used to go to this library when I was a kid," resident James Moore said. "It was a good library. But it's been closed down for years and years."
Moore and his neighbors have watched the building fall into decay and become a magnet for squatters.
"I've called the police every weekend because they've been right here on the steps using drugs," neighbor Javier Arteaga said.
But now those same steps have been taken over by a cleaning crew and volunteers bringing in books by the box load. Activists have set out to bring a library back to the vacant, city-owned building.
"We hope that people will continue to bring books and we can really just fill this building and make it a real library," library demonstration volunteer Marianne Moore said.
Except the volunteers, many of them members of Occupy Oakland, are doing this without the city's permission.
"The city has just demonstrated that they have absolutely no interest in retrofitting it, or fixing it up, or cleaning it up, or making it available to the community again," Marianne said. "So that's why we decided to open it and make it available."
Neighbors like Jose Lazo say they hope the city lets them keep it up, "There's kids getting killed for no reason. And, why would you not wanna open up a library for these kids to be involved in something positive?"
In a neighborhood where they say kids have so little to do, the volunteers say they're hoping to prove a point.
A spokesperson for the city administrator's office tells ABC7 News that the protestors are trespassing and, as a result, are issuing a notice to vacate the building.