Campus: San Jose State University -- December 15, 2003

Library Time Capsule Discovered Contents on Display at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library

A Carnegie Library time capsule was recently discovered by San José State University's Special Collections department and the contents are on display on the fifth floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. The discovery marks the 101-year anniversary of having a library located at Fourth and San Fernando streets where the King Library now stands. The capsule, an 8-by-10-inch, metal box, contains memorabilia that was placed in the cornerstone of the original Carnegie Library in 1902, and which remained in the building's foundation until it was torn down in 1958 to make way for a new SJSU library.

From newspaper articles found with the capsule, the metal box was filled, set into the cornerstone of the Carnegie Library on February 16, 1902, and cemented into the foundation. The capsule contained historical documents, many of which relate to the library's origins. These include: a letter to Andrew Carnegie from C.J. Martin, Mayor of San José, requesting his assistance in securing a library; a letter from a cashier at the Carnegie Corporation allocating $50,000 for a library building; copies of the ordinance accepting the deed to a site on Washington Square for the San José Public Library; and the resolution of the City of San José to set apart $5,000 annually for the support and maintenance of the public library. An 1896 author and title list of all the books in the city library was also found.

"This discovery of historic documents in the early library's foundation has symbolic as well as practical value," said Patricia Breivik, dean of the university library. "It shows what a rich history San José State University and the Public Library have shared for the past one hundred years, and that the two libraries were built upon the same foundation."

Although the documents discovered pertain to the San José Public Library, the metal box and its contents were discovered in the University's Special Collections. "That's because, in early 1936, SJSU (at that time named San José State College), acquired the Carnegie Library from the City of San José in a deal that gave the city the old post office at South Market and West San Fernando streets to convert into a library," said Jane Light, director of the SJPL. "Thus, when the cornerstone was unearthed in 1958 to make way for a new expansion wing of the university library, its contents became university property.

"That particular plot of land seemed destined for the joint city/university King Library," added Light. "Now that the two institutions have joined together, both the Public Library's California Room and SJSU's Special Collections have created a shared display, in order to showcase this discovery."

The contents of the Carnegie Library time capsule are currently displayed on the fifth floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. For library hours, see www.

Contacts: Nancy L. Stake, Ron Bottini, SJSU, at 408-924-1166
Lorraine Oback, SJPL, at 408-808-2176

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