In 2013, when Jill Bourne arrived in San Jose to lead the library system of California’s third largest city, she found declining library use, about 180,000 people owing millions of dollars in fines, and four beautiful new buildings shuttered because of lack of funding.
Today, thanks to Bourne, ’97, and her team, the libraries in San Jose are a national example of adapting to meet community needs. For that, the iSchool alum was named 2017 Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal. Prioritizing poorer neighborhoods, families and children under 18, and reopening the closed libraries was just the beginning.
Now San Jose’s libraries provide new services like computer coding classes, a recording studio, free lunches for children in the summer, and spaces for meetings. “Not all libraries should be the same,” says Bourne. “Libraries should reflect the communities they serve.”