2004 Library of the Year Award

The Library of the Year Award honors the North American library that most profoundly demonstrates outstanding community service. Members of the editorial board of Library Journal, representatives from Thomson Gale's Executive Committee and librarians from around the country judge nominations based on three key factors:

  • service to the community
  • creativity and innovation in developing specific community programs or a dramatic
  • increase in library usage
  • leadership in creating programs that can be emulated by other libraries


News Release: June 30, 2004 -

San José Public Library & San José State University LibraryShare 2004 Library of the Year Award

Groundbreaking Academic & Public Library Collaboration Earns National Prize for Leveraging Combined Resources to Improve Service

The San José Public Library (SJPL) and the San José State University Library (SJSU) have been awarded the prestigious Thomson Gale/Library Journal 2004 Library of the Year Award for their path-breaking collaboration on the new Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and system-wide integration of materials and services.

The joint award was presented to San José Mayor Ron Gonzales, SJSU Interim President Joseph Crowley, SJPL Library Director Jane Light and SJSU Library Dean Patricia Senn Breivik, Ph.D, today at an event in the King Library.

"Great cities have great libraries,” said Mayor Gonzales. “Our residents know that libraries are essential for learning, literacy and quality of life, and they have strongly supported their improvement and expansion throughout out San José. We are very proud of the national recognition for what our community has achieved together."

"We are very pleased to receive this prestigious award,” said SJSU Interim President Crowley. “Our library collaboration has provided a unique information hub for the entire community, offering access to the university collections as well as the public library system’s resources. Today’s libraries are a gateway to information literacy that provide the tools for people of all ages to explore lifelong learning opportunities."

Announcing the award in this month’s Library Journal, the magazine praised the city and university’s combined efforts on the King Library saying, “What it triggered in cooperative planning between university and city, in risk-taking and vision by local politicians, city officials, university administrators, and library managers and staff was truly unique. It is that incredibly complex and difficult work that won the Gale/Library Journal 2004 Library of the Year Award."

The magazine went further to commend the library directors for their skillful integration of two distinct facilities, “Much of the credit must go to the current directors of each library, Patricia Breivik at SJSU and Light, who, after inheriting the idea, have organized the marriage and continue to make it work so effectively. They have invented a new model for academic/public library cooperation."

The only co-managed city-academic library in the nation, King Library is jointly operated with one library card, one computer system and two entrances - one opening to city streets and one opening to the university campus. The ground-floor promenade connecting the two aptly symbolizes the path of continuous lifelong learning. Serving the more than 1.7 million people who live and work in Silicon Valley, including San José residents, university students, faculty and staff, the King Library opened in August 2003 and holds more than 1.5 million items. The library is home to the world’s largest archive on John Steinbeck and the largest collection of Ludwig van Beethoven materials outside of Europe. Since August of last year, more than 2.1 million items have been checked out of the King Library.

Library Journal also applauded the city and the university for emphasizing the value of branch libraries and making all library materials available through the branches. “In 2000, 76 percent of San José voters approved a $212 million bond measure to build six new branches and renovate 14 others. The first bond measure on the city’s ballot in 30 years, it was the largest ever passed. SJPL has already opened one new branch and four are currently under construction."

The article went on to note that branches are an integral part of library activity at SJSU and at the King Library. Students and faculty can go to a branch in their neighborhood now and request materials from the university collection and get them within two to three days at most. In one month alone - April 2004 - 13,650 items were requested by the branches from the combined King collection.

Public libraries are San José’s most popular city service with 91 percent of surveyed residents rating library service, as very good or excellent. Residents not only support their libraries, they use them regularly. During the past five years, circulation at the San José Public Library has jumped by 108 percent; the average resident checks out 15 books each year, more than double the Bay Area average of six per year.