Let’s turn frustration into action

At their retreat this weekend, Gilroy City Council members will
be talking about how to fix the sorry state of Gilroy’s public
library at their upcoming summit. That’s a legitimate topic that
merits serious discussion and, more importantly, requires creative
thinking.
Gilroy can
At their retreat this weekend, Gilroy City Council members will be talking about how to fix the sorry state of Gilroy’s public library at their upcoming summit. That’s a legitimate topic that merits serious discussion and, more importantly, requires creative thinking.

Gilroy can sit back and bemoan losing out in yet another round of state library bond bingo games, or we can recognize one plain fact: Under Gilroy’s current proposal, our city may never be granted state bond funds for building a new facility.

But that doesn’t mean Gilroy should give up. We just have to play the game smarter. Let’s start with a public discussion – a library ideas forum – where interested citizens can come and bring fresh thoughts to the table. What if we proposed moving the library downtown? Would that change our ranking at the state level? Are there other funding sources? Should Gilroy start a “Friends of the Library” capital campaign?

All options should be explored or we can surely forget about securing the much-needed increase in square footage. And Gilroy should pursue the possibility of leveraging the library to serve as a catalyst for continuing downtown revitalization. Especially in these lean economic times, our scarce dollars must do double or even triple duty.

With the new focus on downtown – the cannery project, the task force, the arts center – isn’t there some place in Gilroy’s historic center that the library can go? Being creative about library sites could very likely open up new sources of funding. Public-private partnerships, grants for urban renewal and private fundraising all might be available for a library located in downtown Gilroy.

The wildly successful arts center fundraising drive might provide a model for at least a portion of funding a new Gilroy library. Perhaps there are Gilroyans who would like to have a checkout counter, or a children’s story room, or even a library shelf named in their honor.

We urge Gilroy City Council members, city staffers, downtown revitalization enthusiasts, library employees, library patrons, educators and literacy advocates: Let’s work together, let’s think outside the box, let’s find a way to make the worthwhile vision of a new library facility that boosts literacy and downtown a reality.

It won’t happen by waiting for Sacramento to create another bond program the state can ill-afford. It can happen if we leverage our opportunities, scour the community, foundations and philanthropists for funding, and remain open to new ideas.

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