Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library
Campus entrance to the Library
Country United States
Type Public
Established 2003
Location 150 E. San Fernando Street
San Jose, California
Coordinates 37°20′08″N 121°53′06″W / 37.33545°N 121.88496°W / 37.33545; -121.88496Coordinates: 37°20′08″N 121°53′06″W / 37.33545°N 121.88496°W / 37.33545; -121.88496
Size 1,600,000 volumes
Website https://www.sjlibrary.org/

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library (also known locally as the MLK Library) is a 136-foot (41 m)[1] tall public library in downtown San Jose, California, which had its grand opening on August 16, 2003.[2] As of 2007, it is the largest library building in the western United States built in a single construction project, with over 475,000 square feet (44,000 m²) of space on eight floors and approximately 1.6 million volumes. The King Library is a collaboration between the City of San José and San José State University: it is the main library for both San José State University and the San José Public Library system. In 2004 it was honored as Library of the Year by Library Journal and Thompson Gale, for its collaborative combination of the two functions as well as for the building.[3] On its tenth anniversary in 2013 it was still the largest joint university-municipal library in the United States.[2]

The Library building can accommodate over 2000 visitors.

Special collections[edit]

Interior of the 8th floor

Special collections within the library include, all on the 5th floor, the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, a California History Room, the SJSU Special Collections & Archive. There is also the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Collection on the 3rd floor.

Building layout[edit]

The lower level (below floor 1) provides public computers, magazines and government documents. The reference collections are on floor 2. The volumes of the City Library system are shelved on floor 3. There, the non-fiction are indexed via the Dewey Decimal Classification and the fiction are sorted alphabetically by author's last name. The volumes of the University Library (known also as the Research Collection) are shelved in floor 6 to 8 and are indexed via the Library of Congress Classification. Some duplicate volumes exist in both systems.

The center of the building is known as the Koret Atrium. On floor 1, in the atrium, a large LED display shows in real time the number of item loans (books and other media such as CDs and DVDs) that the entire City Library System has made since 2000. As of May 2016, that display showed a figure of over 177 million.

The lower level, second and third floors are where the majority of the public computers are located.

The fourth floor is dedicated to visitors with their laptops, and the lower floors provide large round tables for people to meet at. All floors except floor 1 provide individual alcoves for students or members of the public who are engaged in research for their studies. Floors 6 and 8 are "quiet study floors" and floor 7 is a "silent study floor".

Computing and printing services[edit]

The library provides public computers and an online reservation system to reserve time on them. Students can also reserve study rooms through a similar online system. The computers are configured with Traditional Chinese input methods and input methods for some European languages. Some public computers are configured to access the library card catalog and other services only.[4]

In the Koret Atrium on floor 1, there is a kiosk of eight public computers with Internet access for which a library card is not required. These are configured so that use is limited to 15 minutes at a time.

The lower level has about 20 public computers, and floors 2 and 3 about 50 public computers each. Login to these computers requires a San Jose city library card number and PIN. Access time is nominally limited to 2 hours per day per library card, but at the end of the session, if less than 90% of the public computers are busy, the user is granted another hour of session time; such extensions can continue as long as the library remains open. Login sessions of public computer users are automatically terminated when the library closes to the public.

All floors are equipped with Wi-Fi service; using that service also requires a city library card number and PIN.[5] The public, unencrypted SSID is "King_Library_WIFI".

Cash-only print release stations and printers are available on floor 1 and other floors. Some print stations can be operated with print cards.[6] Cash-only copiers are available on most floors.

Public art[edit]

Throughout the library are artworks by Mel Chin; the title of the series is Recolecciones (Spanish for "recollections").[3][7][8]

Extended hours[edit]

After the Library is closed for the day to the public, it remains open for "extended study hours" to SJSU students, staff and faculty and to students from other approved local institutions.[9]

Student life[edit]

The Library is a major nexus point for student life at SJSU. Students often arrive with their laptops and engage in study groups both at tables and in study rooms.


The Library staff include Library Security Officers, some of whom carry body worn video cameras while patrolling the floors. Officers are posted at the entrances to the Library on the first floor and regularly patrol floors 1 to 3. Any person suspected of "library theft" is subject to detention as per the California Penal Code 490.5.[10] Sleeping is not permitted anywhere in the facility. [11] No food, except for covered drinks, or talking loudly is permitted at the public computers. Backpacks and other bags must be kept out of the way other others, such as at the confined spaces of the public computer areas. The regular security staff is supplemented by staff from CSC (Contemporary Services Corporation), who monitor floors 2 and 3. The Library and the Grace Community Center nearby on 10th Street are used by many homeless people.[12][13]

Security announcements, such as to evacuate the Library, sound throughout the central Atrium to all eight floors and via per-floor loudspeakers. There have been security incidents in 2015 and 2016 at the library.[14][15] Evacuations occur, on average, a few times per year. On the afternoon of January 11, 2016, at around 3 p.m. local time, a man, later identified as a member of the public rather than of the university, fell from the sixth floor to the ground floor of the Atrium and died. The library was evacuated and re-opened the next morning.[16][17]



  1. ^ "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library". Emporis.com. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  2. ^ a b Rosen, Carol (September 4, 2013). "San Jose's Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library celebrates its 10th anniversary". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Peterson, Christina A. (2005). "Space Designed for Lifelong Learning: The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint-Use Library". Library as Place: Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space. Reports. Council on Library and Information Resources. 129. ISBN 1-932326-13-8. 
  4. ^ "Computers @ King Library". Retrieved May 17, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Free wireless". Retrieved May 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Printing". Retrieved May 10, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Recolecciones: The King Library Public Art Collections". Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Art of Mel Chin". Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Library Hours". Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  10. ^ "490.5". Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  11. ^ https://www.sjpl.org/policies-procedures/customer-conduct-policy
  12. ^ Emmons, Mark (January 21, 2016). "MLK Library exhibit puts faces on the problem of homelessness". The Mercury News. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  13. ^ Colgan, Mike (March 3, 2015). "Students Noticing More Homeless On SJ State’s Campus Since Jungle’s Closure". CBS SFBayArea. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Good Behavior of S.J.S.U. Police and Security Guard on duty 01.08.2015". Retrieved January 8, 2015. 
  15. ^ Logue, Josh (March 18, 2016). "Library Access vs. Library Security". Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  16. ^ Salonga, Robert (January 12, 2016). "San Jose State library shut down after person killed in atrium fall". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  17. ^ Salonga, Robert (January 13, 2016). "San Jose State library reopens after fatal atrium fall". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]