News & Events - Press Releases

9. San José Public Library

Press Contact: Elizabeth Chavarin, 408-808-2175

Web Site:

photo of adults using computers in the library computer lab
Left to right: Director Jane Light, Cokie Roberts, Community Member Vikram K. Kanth, Board Chair Jean Lee, and Susan Hildreth. Click image to access full-size version.

Located in a city of richly diverse neighborhoods, San José Public Library focuses its programs, services, and staffing to ensure it meets each community’s needs. The library employs staff that reflect the predominant cultures of the city and the website offers information in more than a dozen languages. At Inclusive Story Times, children with varying learning styles and abilities learn together in a safe and supportive environment where appreciation for differences is encouraged. An expanded story time program, Stay and Play, helps parents connect with their children using library-provided toys. School-age children access online homework help sessions in three languages and teens develop critical leadership skills through teensReach. Through its Family Learning Centers, some 18,000 children, young people, and adults improve their literacy and life skills each year. All library branches offer a retail-like experience and staff members have moved from behind desks to the service floor to provide assistance with research, computers, and other library resources.

Community Member: Vinkram Kanth
Vinkram Kanth has been a strong and effective advocate for San Jose Public Library. Kanth’s love for the library started at a young age, when his new immigrant parents started to frequent the library after learning of its services for children. He later became a library volunteer and in 2006 picked up a summer job at the library. That’s when he learned that his local library was in need of funding. Shortly after, as a high school senior, Kanth founded GROW (Give, Raise, Organize, Work), a teen-run non-profit organization that raises funds for the Calabazas Branch Library. To date, GROW has attracted over 400 people to the cause and has raised several thousand dollars through fundraisers.

U.S. Representative Mike Honda (D_CA_15), who nominated the San Jose Public Library:
"I am pleased that the San Jose Public Library (SJPL) is receiving this distinguished recognition from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Here in Silicon Valley, we pride ourselves on innovation. The SJPL is an international model for providing traditional and cutting-edge library services to all Silicon Valley residents. Under the direction of Jane Light, the SJPL developed new programs and methods that have positively redefined the role of libraries in our community.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D_CA):
"I congratulate the San José Public Library and the entire San José community for receiving the 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service award. San José Public Library is one of the country’s busiest and most vibrant libraries. More Californians visited the library last year than the combined total attendance at home games of the San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, and San José Sharks. I am gratified the community has discovered and embraced this world class public library, and the library has embraced the community right back by providing a variety of services and new ideas for people of all ages, including literacy and learning skills for young people, and employability skills for adults. These are resources every community needs, especially during tough economic times." 

Next Winner: Weippe Public Library & Discovery Center