After years of community campaigning, the execution of an ambitious construction project, a heart-wrenching setback due to a funding conflict between the city and the county and even more community campaigning, the Northside Branch Library finally opened its doors to the public on Aug. 9. About 3,500 people visited the library on the grand opening day and 4,500 items were checked out.
During the morning program, former Miss Santa Clara Melissa Bowling sang the national anthem. Next, speeches were given by distinguished community members, including Mayor Jamie Matthews, City Manager Julio Fuentes, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, library board trustee Betsy Megas, library foundation board president Keith Stattenfield and community member Mary Ng Dooley, accompanied by her father, Don-Shek Ng. A ceremonious ribbon cutting, performed by Matthews, made the library’s grand opening official.
“I’m so gratified and happy I can see the community loving the new library,” says Hilary Keith, library director for the Santa Clara City Library. “The library is really the heart of the community.”
Santa Clara residents enjoyed the spacious library’s brightly painted walls, patio neighboring Live Oak Park and many shelves and racks displaying brand-new books, DVDs and other materials ready for check out.
“My son, Brian, has cerebral palsy and a visual impairment that affects his ability to read,” Catherine Aylesworth says. “To have the library so close to us, we know we can rely on the staff to help support him to be a better reader so he could go on to the university someday.”
“I look forward to doing lots of reading here,” adds Brian Aylesworth, 13. “The first book I just checked out here is the ‘Marvel Encyclopedia.'”
“I’m thinking of checking out a Chinese cookbook,” says Maria Aylesworth, 11. “I want to learn how to make Chinese noodles. I love Chinese noodles.”
“I like adventure, so I’m checking out the book, ‘Divergent,'” says Rebekah Uyleman, almost 12, accompanied by her sister, Emily, 8.
“My mom and dad will read to me,” says Ella Seng, 5, holding up ‘Pinkalicious’ and ‘Pete the Cat’ books to check out.
“My family will borrow books and attend story time here,” says Wendy Lam. “My son, Ethan, likes superhero stories.”
Also participating in the grand opening were Rivermark residents Kathy Watanabe and Roger and Estela Ramirez. The three neighbors, and many others, campaigned tirelessly for the Northside Branch Library. So the day was sweet and victorious for them and their families.
“I’m feeling like I need to pinch myself; a long awaited dream has come true,” Watanabe says. “My daughter has already checked out two young adult fiction books. She’s excited about the teen room and having a place to hang out with her friends.”
Ramirez has become locally famous for a remark he made that was quoted in one of the morning’s speeches: “This day is a lesson in great achievement through perseverance and how a few people can make a huge difference in the lives of so many.”