Santa Clara County Library

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Santa Clara County Library District
Established 1912
Location Santa Clara County, California
Branches 8
Size 1,645,756
Access and use
Circulation 9,513,828
Population served 412,132
Other information
Director Nancy Howe
Staff 242.2 FTE
Website [1]

The Santa Clara County Library District is a public library system headquartered in Los Gatos, California.[1] The library serves the communities and cities of Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Saratoga, and all unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. In addition to these libraries, the library provides mobile library service with two bookmobiles visiting preschools, retirement communities, migrant farmworker camps, and rural communities without easy access to library services.

The Santa Clara County Library District has been recognized seven years in a row by Hennen's American Public Library Ratings as one of the leading libraries delivering outstanding and cost effective service. As of 2005, the Santa Clara County Library had a combined collection totaling 1,681,588 items and served a combined population of 405,225.

Santa Clara County Libraries[edit]

Member libraries include Campbell Library, Cupertino Library, Gilroy Library, Los Altos Library, Woodland (Los Altos) Branch Library, Milpitas Library, Morgan Hill Library, and Saratoga Library. There is also a Bookmobile to serve residents who may experience difficulty traveling to a community library.



In July 1914, Santa Clara County began operating a county library. Stella Huntington was appointed the first County Librarian. Two years earlier, a one-cent tax had been levied for the purpose of supporting a county library. It provided $3,700 for the first year of operation. Seventeen branches were opened, and from the collection of 6,127 books, circulation totaled almost 50,000 that first year. The population of Santa Clara County at that time was approximately 90,000.

By 1932, the Library operated on a budget of $25,000 and had a total of 30 branch libraries. In December 1932, the County Library assumed responsibility for library service to all County schools except those in San Jose, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara City.

During the 1950s, Santa Clara County experienced tremendous growth and urbanization. By 1955, the County Library collection numbered 404,426 with a total circulation of 1,037,257. A staff of 45 provided service at 13 rural branches, 2 bookmobiles, and to 116 elementary schools. In 1958, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved a study conducted by Emerson Greenaway that recommended a shift from a rural library system to an urban system. The study recommended hiring professional staff, developing larger book collections, and moving from storefront to appropriate library facilities.


George Farrier became the third County Librarian in 1959 and oversaw the creation of the County Library Commission and similar library commissions in each community.

By 1968, the library tax rate had increased to 18 cents to support the library system's strategic goals. Nine dedicated library buildings had been constructed, beginning with the Los Altos Library in 1964 and ending with the Milpitas Library in 1983.

Barbara Campbell was appointed the County Librarian in 1973. In 1978 California State Proposition 13 passed, reducing the library's property tax revenues by half.

The Reading Program, an adult literacy tutoring and support service of the Santa Clara County Library, was started in 1985 as an early member of the State Library's California Literacy Campaign. The Reading Program served county residents in both the Santa Clara County Library and the Mountain View Public Library jurisdictions. The same year the County Library became a part of the newly formed Santa Clara County Public Services Agency and Susan Fuller became the fifth County Librarian.

The citizens of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills voted a tax override measure to restore funding lost through Proposition 13. The tax took effect in 1986 and was renewed in 1990. The tax paid for additional hours, materials and staffing at the Los Altos Library and the Woodland Branch Library.


In 1992, the County Library again became an independent department reporting to the County Executive as a result of the disbanding of the Public Service Agency. The following year, California State tax law changed reducing library funding by 40%, resulting in layoffs and reduced open hours.

In 1994 voters approved by over a two-thirds majority vote an annual parcel assessment to fund the nine libraries that make up the Santa Clara County Library. This ten-year assessment expired in June 2005. The measure also created of a library special district that shifted governance from the County Board of Supervisors to a Joint Powers Authority. The JPA Board consists of representatives from each of the nine city councils and two members of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

Susan Fuller was selected as the Librarian of the Year by Library Journal in 1998. Hennen's American Public Library Rating Index ranked the library second in comparable population sizes in 1999. In 2000, the library was ranked number one.

Melinda Cervantes became the County Librarian in 2002. The Library was again ranked number one by Hennen's American Public Library Rating Index.

In March 2004, Santa Clara County Measure B fell just short of the required two-thirds vote for approval. The measure would have extended the assessment approved in 1994. As a result of the budget shortfall, Santa Clara County Libraries were forced to close one day each week.

In May 2005, residents of Santa Clara County voted to continue their funding of the Santa Clara County Library by passing Measure A with a 72% "Yes" vote. Measure A continues an existing tax and provides the library with $5.4 million per year. Measure B, which would have added another $1.9 million per year, failed to pass, receiving 64% of the vote, less than the required two-thirds.

The Library has consistently ranked one of the top 100 libraries in the U.S. by Hennen's American Public Library Rating Index.

In late 2006, the Library introduced wireless service and a new automated materials handling system in each library and at the Library Administration Offices.

Since 2000, plans to remodel, expand and construct new libraries have been underway. The greatly expanded Saratoga Library (48,500 sf) funded by a local bond measure opened in June 2003. The Cupertino Library (54,000 sf) supported with an advisory vote was funded by the City of Cupertino's General Fund and opened in October 2004. The Morgan Hill Library (28,000 sf) was constructed with City Redevelopment Agency funds and opened on July 21, 2007. City Redevelopment Agency and Transient Occupancy Tax dollars funded the Milpitas Library (60,000 sf) in January 2009. The newly remodeled Woodland Branch Library (4,600 sf) located in Los Altos and jointly funded by the City and the Library reopened in March 2010. Groundbreaking for the new Gilroy Library (53,500 sf) took place in July 2010 and the replacement building on the same site was dedicated in April 27, 2012.

The Santa Clara County Library Strategic Plan, 2008-2013 was adopted by the Joint Powers Authority District Board on October 23, 2008.[2]

In 2009, the Library began migrating to RFID technology, a project that will take 18 months to complete.

On July 1, 2011, the Library began charging an $80 annual library card fee for those who don't live inside Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga, or the unincorporated area of Santa Clara County.[3] Students (preschool - 12) whose school districts overlap with Santa Clara County Library city boundaries can get a free Student Card, which is limited to 5 checkouts and 2 holds at a given time.


  1. ^ "Contact Us." Santa Clara County Library. Retrieved on March 27, 2010. "Santa Clara County Library, 14600 Winchester Blvd., Los Gatos CA 95032-1817"
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Who Can Get a Santa Clara County Library Card". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°15′19″N 121°57′57″W / 37.255187°N 121.965792°W / 37.255187; -121.965792