The Los Gatos Library on Villa Avenue recently celebrated its 5th anniversary. Since its incorporation in 1887, the town of Los Gatos has had four official libraries, five if you count the reading rooms established in 1898 in L.A. Wilder store on the south side of Main Street. The town’s newest library opened in 2012 and embodies modern technology and architecture while embracing its natural surroundings and offering something for everyone.
Los Gatos Carnegie Library 1903-1954
In 1903, the first sanctioned library opened in Los Gatos thanks to a $10,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The single room library was just over 2,000 square feet and held 1,000 volumes. Librarian Henrianna Rankin, ahead of her time, created a children’s corner, where young children and their caretakers could read and play quietly together. This unique concept was eventually adopted by libraries all across the state.
After the 1906 earthquake, Carnegie library building, like many others, sustained considerable damage yet remained standing until it was demolished in 1854. The foreman overseeing the demolition stated in an interview with a local paper that he found a one-inch wire cable wrapped around the building, which was put in place after the major temblor. When the cable was severed, the building pulled away from the ceiling rafters, the walls visibly sagged and the mortar began to crumble. Once the structure was demolished, the land was sold to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and continues to be used as the church parking lot.
Los Gatos Memorial Library 1954-1966
Los Gatos’s second library was housed in the American Legion Building on the north side of East Main Street. Constructed in 1949 as war memorial, the building was funded by $16,000 in private donations. Purchased in 1954 by the Town Council for use as the next library, it was named the Los Gatos Memorial Library to continue to honor the building’s original intent. The Los Gatos Memorial Library was home to 17,000 books and remained in use until 1966.
Los Gatos Civic Center Library 1966-2012
In 1962, Los Gatos voters approved a bond to build a new Civic Center, including yet another library. Four years later, the town’s third library welcomed its first visitors. By then, the collection of books had reached 50,000 and there was a record collection from which patrons could borrow. There was also a formal Children’s Room with books as well as educational and entertainment programs. This library served the public for fifty years.
In 1994, the town bought the land behind the Civic Center for its next library. Over the next 16 years, the town worked on funding, assessments and making the necessary preparations, including moving a pre-1941 home from the property. In 2008, Noll &Tam Architects were hired and two years later, the official groundbreaking finally took place.
Los Gatos Library 2012 to present
In 2012, the modern Los Gatos Library was complete. The 2-story, 30,000 square foot structure is tucked into the side of a wooded hill with Pageant Park as its ‘front yard.’ The design itself is based on a lantern and the myriads of materials are inspired by its natural surroundings. Open, airy and filled with natural light, cantilevered pop-outs maximize the space while adding visual interest. Intimate reading areas offset the open spaces and the library’s staircase serves as its primary design element, welcoming visitors as they enter.
The library has areas designed to appeal to its different guests. The Children’s Library is cheerful and animated, with a planetary motif, reading nooks and secret garden with cement sculptures representing favorites from classic children’s literature. A popular event, storytime is held four times a week, with over 17,000 children enjoying this event and the area dedicated to their interests.
The Teen area occupies the pop-out on the second floor and has a ‘treehouse’ feel. With a lounge vibe, the bright space is a favorite place for Los Gatos High School students to study or hang out after class. In 2015-2016, over 20,000 teenagers visited this unique space to study, conduct research or do homework.
The library appeals to adults of all ages as well. The library has grown well beyond just books, offering over 500 programs annually, including Internet 101 workshops, knitting classes and programs on geneology. The library also offers audio books, e-books, movies, book clubs and so much more. Many people come here for a quite place to work, study or immerse themselves in a novel.
The library offers quiet study rooms and work spaces as well as access to public computers. The library will soon be launching a “Laptops Anytime” program that will enable users to checkout a laptop from a vending machine that they can use while they are at the library.
The 2015-2016 fiscal year brought over 324,000 visitors to the Los Gatos Public Library. That exceeds the previous library’s attendance by almost 105,000 visitors. Though Los Gatos has only 30,000 residents, the library has over 32,000 active cardholders and counting, proving that this new cutting edge facility in the small town of Los Gatos draws in people from surrounding areas.
100 Villa Avenue
Monday – Tuesday: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ( Jun. – Aug.)
12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. ( Sept.- May )