Facts and Awards

Crowd of eager citizens outside Hillview Branch for its Grand Opening listen to a speaker.

San José Public Library (SJPL), located in Silicon Valley, is the largest public library system between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Serving a culturally diverse population of over 1 million in the country's 10th largest city, SJPL is one of the busiest library systems nationwide with an annual checkout rate of nearly 14 million items. Award-winning staff strive to ensure library services reflect the city’s rich diversity and that every library customer’s experience is exceptional. SJPL is recognized for its innovation and leadership. It was named the 2004 Thomson Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year and received the 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for a library. 

Primary Address:
San José Public Library
150 E. San Fernando St. 
San José, CA 95112
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Quick Statistics (FY 2017/2018)

  • Population Served: 1,046,079
  • Visitors: 6.3 million
  • Facilities: 25
  • Staff: 555
  • Library Card Members: 509,333
  • Operating Budget: $44.4 million
  • Costs Per Capita: $31
  • Items in Collection: 2.1 million
  • Languages in Collection: 50+
  • Items Loaned: 8.37 million items
  • Digital Downloads: 703,288
  • Computer Reservations: 1.08 million
  • Study Room Bookings: 35,446
  • Library Questions Answered: 500,000+
  • Homework Sessions: 8,367 students
  • Homework Hours Logged: 3,370
  • Total Events and Programs: 20,453
  • Event and Program Attendees: 405,734
  • Total Volunteers: 2,999
  • Volunteered Hours: 92,188
SJPL and SJSU employees celebrate the 15th anniversary of the King Library.
Caption
SJPL and SJSU employees celebrate the 15th anniversary of the King Library.

Awards

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and the San José Public Library system have received much recognition, including:

  • 2004 Library of the Year from Thomson Gale/Library Journal
  • 2004 Helen Putnam Award of Excellence from the League of California Cities
  • 2004 Circle of Excellence Silver Award from the Council for Advancement & Support for Education (CASE)
  • 2004 Honorable Mention from the American Institute of Architects, Santa Clara Valley Chapter (AIASCV)
  • 2005 James C Howland Gold Prize for Municipal Enrichment from the National League of Cities
  • Savings by Design Award from PG&E for energy-efficient design
  • 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service
  • 2016 Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award, for the Virtual Privacy Lab, from the California Library Association
  • 2016 RUSA Award for Excellence in Reference and Adult Services, for the Virtual Privacy Lab, from the American Library Association's Reference and User Services Association
  • 2017 Library Public Relations Award, for TeenHQ, from John Cotton Dana
  • 2017 PRExcellence Award, for Maker[Space]Ship, Print Category, from California Library Association
  • 2017 PRExcellence Award, for TeenHQ, Campaign Category, from California Library Association
  • 2018 Library Public Relations Award, for 2-Step Fine Forgiveness Program, from John Cotton Dana
  • 2019 PRExcellence Award, for Coding5K, Campaign Category, from California Library Association
  • 2019 ULC Innovation, for SJ Sharks Partnership, Communicating the Library's Value Category, from Urban Libraries Council

Library History

A "San José library" was first formed in 1872. In 1903, the library moved to a dedicated facility in the form of a Carnegie building on Fourth and San Fernando Streets – the same location as the current King Library. The first branch, East San José Carnegie was acquired in 1911. Additional branches were built through public funding or acquired through city annexation throughout the latter half of the century. See a timeline of Library history