The fate of the imperiled Empire Library was discussed at the Northside Neighborhood Association's general meeting in August 1999 with San Jose's head librarian, Jane Light, and downtown councilperson Cindy Chavez.
Light told the standing-room only audience of Northside residents that Empire Library is too small and lacks parking. Light said that the library will probably need to be relocated. Chavez pledged to work with NNA in an effort to save the library, either at its present site or by finding on alternative location within the Northside neighborhood.
San Jose is developing a master plan for its 17 branch libraries for the 21st century. The plan for Empire Library calls for a significantly expanded facility, one which cannot be accommodated in its current location, at least not without concessions from the San Jose Unified School District, which owns the land at 11th and Empire Streets the library occupies. That's why, Light said, the library will likely need to be relocated. No new site has been identified, and it is possible Empire Library could be relocated outside the Northside neighborhood.
Three sites have already been considered, including Watson Park and Backesto Park and the City's equipment yard in Japantown. The fact that the City yard would even be considered underscores the risk that the Northside neighborhood could lose its library.
The proposed master plan would expand Empire Library from 7,000 to 17,000 square feet, add a story-telling area, increase reader seating from 22 to over 100, and enlarge the community room from a capacity of 40 persons to seventy. The proposed master plan also calls for a parking lot with 69 spaces, whereas the current location has no dedicated parking spaces.
Stay tuned to this site for details regarding the future of Empire Library.
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