Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library: 20 years of public-university partnership

The downtown community celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library this month.

The celebration of the library kicked off last Wednesday with more than 300 people paying tribute to those who envisioned the nation’s first jointly operated main library serving the needs of the San Jose public at large and the students, staff and faculty of San Jose State.

Statistics amassed over the past 20 years show that the library has been a big success since moving into its space at Fourth and San Fernando streets.  Last year, the King Library attracted almost 1 million visitors. In 20 years, more than 250 million items have been borrowed.

The 475,000 square-foot library has nine-levels that house over 350,000 public items in its collection, which includes over 90 languages. The academic collection includes 1.3 million physical items and 3.2 million digital items.

Library treasures include centers dedicated to Beethoven and John Steinbeck, special collections of local, state and national history, a ground-floor children’s room and public artworks throughout the building by Mel Chinn.

People can also access tech device lending, Wi-Fi connectivity, wireless printing, and public computers.  Jill Bourne has been city librarian for 10 years.

“The King Library represents an enduring partnership between City Hall and San Jose State, a partnership that will only expand in the years ahead as we jointly labor to create greater opportunity for all,” said Mayor Matt Mahan.

The celebration includes a King Library awareness campaign highlighting current exhibits, programs, and the unique collections anyone can explore. Details at sjlibrary.org. 

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