Community Engagement – Spring 2024

The San José Public Library is committed to connecting and listening to San Jose residents. One way we do this is by visiting public events and talking to residents and neighbors. Here is what we've been hearing from four of our locations during our Spring Community Events.

Quick Links 

Berryessa |Evergreen | Joyce Ellington | Tully

Berryessa Branch Library

Berryessa Library Staff host a booth at a Spring Carnival to talk with neighbors

Shih Fa Kao from the Berryessa Branch Library gave the following account of his engagement with his community:

I attended a virtual meeting held by the Morrill Middle School’s PTSA. Everyone in the meeting was affiliated with that group. I wanted to attend Morrill Middle School’s PTSA meeting because we have had very little contact with Morrill Middle School compared to the other middle schools that we serve.

The information was collected through a Jamboard that participants could respond to if they wished. From their feedback, I have learned that their group desires an inclusive, friendly, and family-oriented community. They also want more programs for preteens and teens. When asked how the library can help create the community they want, they suggested more enrichment programs for middle school aged kids, cooking classes, and activities for teens. We asked the additional question of what kind of programs they want to see us host, suggestions ranged from author readings to cooking and creative writing classes. With this information, I will work harder to bring more preteen and teen programs to Berryessa.  


Evergreen Branch Library

The outside of Evergreen Library

In April, staff from the Evergreen Branch Library participated in Millbrook Elementary's Spring Festival, aiming to connect with the community and gather feedback about their needs, concerns, and experiences. The library set up a booth featuring a question board with four key questions designed to gauge public sentiment towards the local community and the San Jose Public Library system.

Engaging the Community

The festival provided an excellent opportunity for library staff to interact with local families, students, and educators. The interactive question board encouraged visitors to share their thoughts on what they valued in their community and what changes they would like to see. It also allowed the library to understand how people perceive their community and how they could improve. 

One of the most prominent themes that emerged from the feedback was the desire for a welcoming and inclusive community. Many people expressed the importance of embracing diversity and ensuring everyone feels accepted regardless of their background. 

Here are a few quotations from those who visited the library booth: 

  • “I would like more of a community safe space that hosts conversations on difficult topics like inclusiveness and acceptance.” 
  • “Library staff are always kind and welcoming.” 
  • “I would love to see more educational programs for elementary-aged students.”

While some respondents praised the friendliness and support that Evergreen Branch Library provides, there was an overall feeling in the community of unfriendly-ness and unwelcomeness. This feedback offers the library valuable insights into how they can contribute to building a stronger sense of unity and inclusion. 

Looking Forward

The Evergreen Branch Library staff hopes to use this feedback to shape the future. They aim to create more opportunities for open dialogue and connection, reflecting the community's call for safe spaces to discuss important social issues. 

Joyce Ellington Branch Library

The outside of Joyce Ellington Library

Joyce Ellington Branch Library staff attended the 13th Street Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) Meeting in March. There was a presentation by the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Climate Smart Team about the upcoming transition from fossil fuel-based appliances to all-electric to make buildings and living spaces more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.  

There was a lively discussion about the transition to all-electric buildings with questions and concerns around costs, rebates, City incentives, heat pumps, induction cooktops and more. Concerns were expressed about pollution emitted from gas appliances, related health risks and what to do if you are a renter and the landlord is not willing to transition to electric. 

Other topics that came up during the meeting were the current initiative being pushed through City Council to install digital billboards and the lack of hospitals in San Jose’s downtown core. All attendees were against the installation of digital billboards. Several attendees are part of group who are looking into how to remove abandoned billboards which are seen as blight in many neighborhoods. Several people expressed concern that if a large-scale earthquake or disaster were to affect downtown San Jose, there is no nearby, easy access to adequate emergency medical services. With the impending service reductions and closures scheduled at Regional Medical Center, all fully equipped trauma centers will be located outside the downtown core. 

Library staff shared information about upcoming adult programs. They were thanked cordially for providing use of the Library’s Community Room and for providing a wide array of programs and services. 

Several NAC attendees are regular library customers and in the weeks after the meeting they expressed gratitude for staff members attending their meeting and shared updates on the topics discussed at the meeting. 

Tully Branch Library

exterior of Tully Community Branch Library

Tully Library Branch Librarian (Kim Chu) and Clerk (Bryan Le) went to an Easter Festival hosted by ICAN at the Vietnamese American Cultural Center (VACC). Kim and Bryan interacted with over 100 customers and their families. While they were there they talked to families about resources and programs that the library offers. Families filled out the 4 ASK questions that Kim and Bryan had displayed. The top 3 things that we learned from families when asked: 

What kind of community do you want to be a part of? 

  1. They want to live in a community where people know and help each other out. 
  2. People want to live in a community that is safe and clean for their kids.  
  3. Families want to live in a community where there is no violence, crime, and/or homelessness. 

How is that different from what you see now? 

  1. People do not talk to each other and are afraid to help people when they are asked. 
  2. There are many car break ins and there is thrash everywhere. 
  3. The neighborhood that I live in is high in crime and lots of homeless people are living on the streets. 

How could the library create the kind of community you want? 

  1. The library can help create the community people want by having more events for the community.  
  2. The library already does their best when it comes to providing resources for the homeless. 

 Along with questions about the community, we also asked what people liked about the library.

   “We love that the library always offers so many programs.” 

   “I always go to the library when I need something. The staff there are always willing to help me.” 

   “I like that the library has programs for kids and adults.” 

   “Bi-lingual staff is a great resource for me when I go to the library.” 

Tully staff will use feedback from the 4 ASK questions to plan future programs for their community.