Today marks the start of California Library Week to highlight what public libraries offer.
Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne said the event recalls the establishment of the Franklin Public Library, the country's first public library in 1778. When the town of Exeter, Mass. changed its name to honor Benjamin Franklin, he was asked to donate a bell for the church, but instead chose to donate books for all the town to use.
"The Franklin Public Library was created as a book-lending institution in an age of information scarcity, but in today's era of information abundance, the public library is so much more than just books," Thorne said.
Even in Pleasanton, where not everyone owns a smartphone or a computer, there were more than 91,000 users on the 24 public access computers at the library last year.
"Clearly, our library meets a critical need in our community, serving not only as a gateway to technology but also providing access to education, learning opportunities and social connections in a safe place," Thorne said.
Not unlike the nation's first library, the Pleasanton library started out with a similarly
modest aim when books were a rarer and more precious commodity. Instigated by the Pleasanton Women's Improvement Club in 1909, the public reading room was stocked with donated books.
Today, nearly 2,000 people a day visit the library.
"Even though demand for services in Pleasanton has increased by 270% over the past decade, libraries have seen their funding cut throughout the state, and ours is no exception," Thorne said. "Our library has had to do more with less, and it has done a fantastic job. But we can do better."
To celebrate California Library Week, he urged residents to check out the library or stop by the Friends of the Library three-day book sale that starts next Friday, April 17.