Libraries: A Forgotten Luxury

By Lily Bourne

Unlimited information, free Wi-Fi, and a beautiful view–all easily found in arguably one of the most underrated destinations: the library. Walking into a library, one is immediately greeted by friendly staff and a collection of other like-minded individuals, eager to learn or work. On the shelves, a myriad of novels, comics, movies, newspapers, and any number of other materials sit at arms reach, ready for their next audience. And the best part? All of it is free! Anyone with a library card can simply walk in, take whatever they desire to read at that very moment, and bring it home with them! It sounds too good to be true! Luckily, it really is that simple. Not only do libraries house unlimited novels to engage the mind, but they also include cookbooks, historical documents, scientific texts, movies, AP and college prep textbooks, and really anything else they could fit on the rows of metal shelves. As an added bonus, all libraries include free wifi and plenty of computers for help with research and homework. Speaking of which, the Westmont community’s local libraries house some of the best study spots in the area. Although coffee shops or working from home might include a little more food and entertainment, they are truly no match for the environment of a public library. You will never find a more productive place than being nestled into some corner of a library with not a single distracting noise in the entire building and a beautiful view out the window, and these corners are not hard to come by. 

The Santa Clara County Library District includes nine locations altogether, meaning that one library card will allow the owner to check out and return materials all across the South Bay. However, there are five libraries within close proximity to Westmont, which are the most feasible for after-school study sessions and quick trips. The closest library to Westmont is currently out of service—sort of. The Campbell Library closed back in 2021, and the city plans to continue construction and remodeling into 2024. For now, a smaller selection of best-selling books and holds can be found in the temporary Campbell Express Library located a few blocks away. 

Considering Campbell’s closure, Saratoga Library becomes the obvious choice for Westmont students. Although I might be biased (I am currently writing this article from that very library), I can say with certainty that Saratoga Library provides the perfect study spot for students. When walking into the adult section of the library, visitors are greeted with floor-to-ceiling windows facing a beautiful church, framed by redwood trees and wildflowers. Desks and chairs line every edge of this cozy building, with a central studying area and group study room available for collaboration. The only downside to this library is its hours. Following a schedule I still do not fully understand, Saratoga Library is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays but closes at 6 p.m. on all other nights. For many of my fellow athletes and busy people, this just won’t do on a school night. 

The next best option, in my opinion, falls to Cupertino Library. Only about five minutes further from Westmont, Cupertino Library stays open until 9 p.m. every weekday night! In addition, “Tino”, as it is affectionately nicknamed by fellow library enthusiast Aarushi Kulkarni, includes not one, but two stories of amazing resources. After passing the fish tank wall and climbing the stairs to the second floor, visitors can find a variety of study spots across the area. The environment is very similar to Saratoga, and if you’re lucky you might be able to hear the calls of hundreds of frogs living in the fountains during the spring months. 

The general Campbell area also includes two more libraries that are not included in the Santa Clara County Library District. Los Gatos Library, situated right by Los Gatos High School, serves as another strong option for students. Although it closes at 6 p.m. every night, Los Gatos holds the best variety of study spots. One can choose to sit on a couch, in a rolling chair, or at a traditional wooden desk. Los Gatos also offers gardening kits and seed packs for its members, an intriguing addition to the materials found at most libraries! The final library requires a little further drive. Located in downtown San Jose, about 20 minutes from Westmont, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, or SJSU Library, provides a much larger array of materials, with eight stories to explore! Since it also acts as a university library, the SJSU Library serves as an especially good location to work on research projects, since it houses many primary and secondary sources for students to check out in real-time. Consider heading over to San Jose when writing your SHARP, sophomores!

Whether you just make a quick trip to check out the view from Saratoga’s windows or begin borrowing some novels to read from SJSU’s wide selection, it is important not to underestimate the value of these organizations. The next time you find yourself complaining about having nowhere to study or nothing to do, try visiting a public library and find something that interests you!