Hillview Branch Grand OpeningSan 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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King LibraryThe 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

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.

Quick Statistics
(FY 2016/2017)

Population Served: 1,046,079
Visitors: 6.7 million
Inventory: 2,167,593 items
Languages in Collection: 20+
Items Loaned: 9.19 million items (combined total, public & university)
Digital Downloads: 546,894
Reference Questions Answered: 643,032
Staff: 578
Facilities: 24
Programs: 21,116
Program Attendees: 459,260
Volunteers: 3,057
Total Hours Contributed by Volunteers: 92,294
Circulation Per Capita: $33
Annual Budget: $38.7 million

Comparative Expenditures / Per Capita:

  • San José: $34.26
  • San Francisco: $118.47
  • San Diego: $32.49
  • Oakland: $61.02
  • Santa Clara County: $79.30

Source: California State Library / California Library Statistics, 2015. Comparative expenditure figures based on fiscal year 2013-2014.

Mission Statement

San José Public Library enriches lives by fostering lifelong learning and by ensuring that every member of the community has access to a vast array of ideas and information.


We strive to provide:

  • Library services that are known and valued by the culturally diverse community, resulting in use from the broadest base of the public.
  • A welcoming and lively cultural and lifelong learning center for the community.
  • Timely and accurate information assistance that will inform and empower the public.
  • Services and collections that are relevant to community needs, readily accessible, and easy to use.
  • A well-trained and highly capable staff that reflects the diversity of San José and works well together to provide quality service to all users.
  • Appropriate facilities which are inviting and well maintained.
  • Technology that appropriately expands and enhances service.
  • Defense of intellectual freedom and the confidentiality of each individual's use of the library.
  • A close working relationship with other libraries, community agencies and organizations that foster cooperation, making the most efficient and effective use of the taxpayer's resources.


  • Our users are not only our customers, they are the reason the library exists. We provide quality service and treat all users fairly and equally. Services are provided in a non-judgmental manner that is sensitive to and supportive of human differences.
  • Our employees and volunteers are valued as individuals and for their important contributions to the organization. An open exchange of ideas is encouraged throughout the system. We nurture our talents and each other.
  • We are a learning organization that is not afraid to change and take appropriate risks in pursuit of meeting community needs. We constantly reassess our services and methods and try to see ourselves through the public's eyes.
  • We maintain high standards in our work and help instill a sense of pride in all employees, as well as a strong sense of responsibility and integrity.
  • Both staff and users are encouraged to enjoy their library experience.

LIBRARIES ~ The San José Way

Marketplace CDs

Standards and guidelines have been developed to enable our staff to consistently and effectively provide quality customer assistance. Resources and training tools are provided to support staff in delivering service “the San Jose Way”. Our SJPL Mission remains constant, only the tools of delivering service are changing to meet customer needs.

  • Bright, beautiful, inviting libraries
  • Materials they want, when and how they want it
  • Floor staff provides teachable moments regarding services, equipment, account management, programs, and all our available resources.