A booth depicting favorite children’s book characters was set up for photo opportunities. Buchser Middle School’s jazz band belted out lively tunes. Mission College’s culinary program offered tasty appetizers. A robotic gadget served drinks. Such was the whimsical and ritzy atmosphere of the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends’ first annual fundraiser, Love our Library Lollapalooza, held on the evening of February 8 at the city’s Central Park Library.
“Planning this event, we selected three library heroes we wanted to honor,” says Tracy Wingrove, associate executive director of the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends. “They are being honored for their long-time advocacy and support of the library. They have been instrumental in the planning and execution of the Northside Branch Library. [Regarding the Northside Library’s status], my understanding is that the city is in negotiations with the state’s Department of Finance to come to a settlement.”
Mayor Jamie Matthews presented awards to the three event honorees and residents of Santa Clara’s Rivermark neighborhood, Roger and Estela Ramirez, and Kathy Watanabe.
“Growing up, my brother and I were latchkey kids; we spent hours in the library afterschool,” Roger Ramirez says. “I listened to my first CD at the library. The library gave me access to technology that was not accessible to me then.”
Today, Ramirez is a Web producer. Inspired by his wife to advocate for a new library, Ramirez knocked on residents’ doors to collect signatures for a petition encouraging the city council to move forward with its pre-approved plans to build the library. He conducted research to gather evidence supporting why a new library was needed. During this process, Ramirez also demonstrated to his children about the work a grassroots movement entails.
“Growing up, I’ve always been a patron of the library,” says Estela Ramirez, a co-founder of Friends of the Northside Library. “I’m a manager in corporate communications. My knowledge of communications comes from reading a lot and being at the library a lot.”
Years ago, Estela Ramirez hosted meetings at her house to plan for bringing the Northside Library to Rivermark. Since then, she still rallies support for the library and provides content for Friends of the Northside Library’s website and Facebook page.
“The reason why I love libraries is because of what it offers to this community, especially now during budget cuts,” says Watanabe, a member of both the library board of trustees and library foundation. “Libraries put back a lot of programming and services that schools have lost as a result of budget cuts.”
Not only has Watanabe donated a large number of books and materials to provide for the library, she continuously advocates for the Northside Library and promotes the library in the community.
“[Tonight], we are also raising funds to support library programs and collections,” Wingrove says.
Attended by about 100 guests, this event raised almost $20,000 for the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends. During the live auction, guests bid on items, including a VIP tour and lunch at the Harris-Lass house and a tasting dinner for 10 offered by Mission College’s culinary program. Additional contributions were offered when guests raised their paddles to honor donation requests.