June 27, 1990
Text by Yolanda Reynolds
Photos by Mary J. Andrade
The American Indian Center of Santa Clara Valley, together with the San Jose Public Library System, dedicated the new Indian Center library last Wednesday, June 20. The new library is located next to the Indian Center of San Jose. Inc. at 935 The Alameda.
The dedication held Wednesday marked the reopening of this Indian Center library. The library was previously located at 3485 East Hills Drive in East San Jose. The library and many of its books were lost when a faulty appliance caused a fire there in 1937.
The afternoon library dedication began with a ceremonial dance followed a blessing of the library by Art Millard of the Quechan tribe and a member of the Indian Elders.
The library is unique and reflects the energy and spirit generated by the coming together of many different tribal groups. This spirit is evident in the various exhibits that reflects the traditions and styles of the many different tribal groups in Center’s activities. According to De Anna Ortiz, one of the Center’s Board of Directors; approximately 60 different tribes live within the service area of the Indian Center and are involved with its programs.
In attendance at the dedication were not only Elders of the Indian community, but also dignitaries and friends of the library including members of the San Jose Library Commission. Also at the dedication was Ruth Blank. the first librarian for the newly established American Indian library Center, who reminisced about the original library, then located at San Fernando and 2nd Street. That was 20 years ago. Since that time, the library collection has greatly expanded in size and scope of services.
Today’s Indian Center library is an example of an innovative library service involving a partnership between a community based organization, the American Indian Center of Santa Clara Valley and the San Jose Library System.
This project’s funding is sponsored by the State of California through the “Community Library Grant Program; A Partnership of Change”. This was awarded to a San Jose coalition of urban American Indian community service providers and the San Jose Public Library and presents a new approach to the providing of informational, educational and recreational library services of relevance to the American “Indian population rather than insistence upon the standard library (as a way) to meet the community’s needs.”
The library collection includes many books which belong directly to the American Indian Center. That collection of books is available to library patrons as reference material. The remainder of the library collection, which is provided by the San Jose Public Library System, is available for Circulation.
The founding coalition includes representatives from the areas of education, social service, media, health, the arts. librarianship and business. The library also has many volunteers, who helped replenish part of the reference collection destroyed in the fire. They also assist in its operation.
On exhibit currently is a fine collection of Indian masks, which are reflective of new and expanded artistic expression based upon traditional Indian Art forms.
The Indian Center is not just library. It has, for over 20 years provided other community services to the Native American Community such as; job training and a range of Social Services including a referral services. The Indian Center, and now the library, provides a central gathering place to many American Indians living in the Santa Clara Valley.
For more information about the library and the hours that it will be scheduled to be open, call the Indian Center at 971-9622.