After walking in I was floored. The library was a state of the art facility with large windows overlooking a central park in the city. Inside there were four floors filled with different types of books, study areas for students, and community events that were being run. I got why all the locals talked about it with such immense pride.
Memories of times spent in public libraries during my childhood came flooding back to me. Growing up I would visit the library on a weekly basis with my mom. She would park me in the kids section where I tore through picture books while she perused the arts & crafts section.
After moving to Pleasanton I would always walk there after middle school to wait for my parents to pick me up. I would spend hours there reading books and avoiding my homework. Later on, my comp civics team would meet in the library every week to prepare for competitions.
While in college I relied on the library pretty heavily. I was able to check out textbooks so I didn’t have to buy new ones every quarter. It was also a refuge where I went to study. My laptop was on its last legs throughout my entire college experience, so I came to rely on the computers and free internet to get my work done.
After college the library stopped being a go to spot on a weekly basis. That was until I randomly walked into the Potrero Hill library in San Francisco a few years after graduation. It was unlike one I had ever seen before, a fully public space at the top of the hill with beautiful views of the entire city. I ended up spending many a weekend morning after breakfast grinding on some work with the city views giving me company.
Libraries are an integral part of any community. For many of us they provide a much needed “third place” outside of home and work that doesn’t cost money to enter. It’s a place to relax, catch up with work, or meet up with friends. In addition, libraries consistently run community and cultural events at free to little cost.
Pleasanton in particular has had a long history of supporting this vital institution. According to “Pleasanton Public Library: A Brief History” the first library in Pleasanton was a reading room established in 1909 by the Pleasanton Women's Improvement Club. In 1911, circulation was 300 with a population of approximately 1200. Today, library circulation approaches nearly 1.5 million each year with about 78,000 people.
California’s library systems are primarily local agencies that receive 94% of their funding from local governments and community groups. In Pleasanton we spend about 4% of our general fund yearly on library services, which amounts to a little over four million dollars.
In addition, organizations such as Friends of the Pleasanton Library support by arranging fundraisers and volunteering their hours to support outreach programs. The city and dedicated community members do a great job in investing in this integral community institution.
Libraries are a vital institution in any community. They serve as a consistent place to explore new things and meet other community members. In fact, before you dive into the Superbowl be sure to check out the book sale the Friends of the Pleasanton Library are organizing this weekend. You might just need something to distract you from all the bandwagon Chiefs fans cheering around you in their brand new Mahomes jerseys.