Historical Timeline of San Jose Public Library

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1872, Jul. 12: San José Library Association begins a membership library in an upstairs room of the Knox Block (corner of First and Santa Clara streets). Collection built from donations


1880, Apr. 30: Library supporters persuade City Council to pass a resolution creating a tax-supported library system


1880: Library located on south side of Santa Clara Street (between Market and First), William Redding becomes first City Librarian (1880-1887)


1889, May: Library moves to second floor of new City Hall


1901: Andrew Carnegie gives the City $50,000 for a new library building


1903: Library moves to the new Carnegie Library at Fourth & San Fernando (future site of the King Library)


1907: Carnegie Library constructed on East Santa Clara St. (the future "East San José Carnegie Branch")


1911: First branch, East San José Carnegie, acquired when San José annexes the City of East San José


1937, July: Main Library moves from Carnegie location to the old Post Office building on the corner of Market and San Fernando streets (currently the San José Museum of Art)


1937: San José annexes the town of Willow Glen, acquiring the Willow Glen Branch


1949: Willow Glen Branch moves to current location on Minnesota Ave.


1959: Bookmobile service begins with 60 stops every two weeks


1960: Rosegarden Branch opens


1961: Cambrian Branch opens


1964, Mar. 8: West Valley Branch opens


1965: A federal grant, along with a bond issue from 1961, provide $4,470,000 for construction of a new Main Library building


1965, Aug.: Hillview Branch opens


1966: Calabazas Branch opens


1967: Seventrees Branch opens


1968: Berryessa Branch opens


1968: San José annexes city of Alviso.  Its City Hall (built 1934) becomes the Alviso Branch


1970, Apr.: Main Library opens on W. San Carlos St.


1971: Almaden and Edenvale (December) branches open


1974: Willow Glen Branch damaged in fire


1974: Edenvale Branch renamed "Pearl Avenue Branch"


1975, Apr.: Rebuilt Willow Glen Branch opens


1976, Mar.: Evergreen Branch opens


1976, Apr.: Biblioteca Latinoamericana becomes affiliated with San José Public Library and opens in a facility provided by Sacred Heart Church as a result of a grant from the California State Library


1976, Dec.: Educational Park Branch opens in partnership with East Side Union High School District


1976: Dewey Decimal System arrangement of collection adopted 


1977, Fall: Empire Branch Library opens


1978, Dec.: Biblioteca Latinoamericana moves to a new facility in the former Woodrow Wilson, Jr. High School cafeteria


1983: Flood destroys Alviso Branch collections


1984, Mar.: Alviso Branch reopens


1984, Nov.: Santa Teresa Branch opens


1990, Jan. 15: Main Library rededicated as the "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Main Library"


1993: City grapples with issue of the Main Library being at 100% capacity


1994, Nov.: Voters approve formation of the Library Benefit Assessment District


1997, Feb.: SJSU President Robert Caret and Mayor Susan Hammer announced intent to collaborate and build a new library that will serve both communities


1998, May: Memorandum of Understanding between the City and University approved


1998, Dec.: Separate Operating and Development agreements approved by the City and University

 • Download the Operating Agreement (183K PDF, Adobe Acrobat Reader required)


1999, Mar.: Architectural design drawings completed for the new King Library


1999, Sep.: Expanded Alviso Branch opens


1999, Nov. 20: Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch moves to its current location on South First St.


1999, Dec.: Construction documents completed for the new King Library


2000, Jul.?: Construction begins on the new King Library


2000, Oct. 20?: Groundbreaking for the new King Library


2000, Nov.: Voters approve Branch Library Bond Measure providing $212 million for 6 new and 14 expanded branches


2001, Sep.: Empire Branch renamed "Joyce Ellington"


2003: Expanded West Valley Branch opens


2003, Aug.: The new Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library opens at Fourth & San Fernando


2004, Jan. 17: Vineland Branch opens, the first of 6 new facilities funded by the 2000 Branch Library Bond Measure


2005, Jan. 22: Tully Community Branch opens


2005, Mar. 12: Expanded Berryessa Branch opens at its current location


2005, Jul. 9: Dr. Roberto Cruz – Alum Rock Branch opens, replacing the county-operated facility from 1978


2006, Feb. 11: Expanded Rose Garden Branch opens


2006, May 13: Expanded Almaden Branch and Community center open


2006, Sep. 16: Expanded Evergreen Branch opens


2006, Nov. 18: Expanded Cambrian Branch opens


2007, Jan. 20: Expanded Hillview Branch opens in its new location


2007, Nov. 3: Edenvale Branch Library opens


2008, Jun. 28: Expanded Joyce Ellington Branch opens


2008, Aug. 9: Expanded Pearl Avenue Branch opens


2008, Aug. 23: Expanded Willow Glen Branch opens


2009, Aug. 29: Expanded East San José Carnegie Branch opens


2010, Feb. 6: Expanded Santa Teresa Branch opens


2013, Jan. 26: Expanded Seven Trees Branch opens


2013, Feb. 23: Bascom Branch opens


2013, May 18: Expanded Educational Park Branch opens


2013, Jun. 8: Expanded Calabazas Branch opens

Old Post Office building
The Old Post Office building, site of the library from 1937-1970.

See Historical Photos on Flickr!

East San José Carnegie branch
The first branch, East San José Carnegie, built in 1907.

Original King Main Library
The original Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Main Library, built in 1970.