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OPINION: Preserving our Library

The Friends of the Library will hold its annual fundraiser this Sunday from 1-3:30 p.m.; tickets are on sale now.
Friends of the Library annual fundraiser.

When I was a child, we had one book in the house and that was the Bible; this wasn’t because we were any more devout than the next Catholic, Chicano family, but because it was given to us for free. My young mother knew that education was the key to my success in the future. She didn’t have the means to provide much support at home, so my access to books during my developing years came from the San Benito County Free Library.

On my mom’s only day off, she and I would pack a bag and walk from our neighborhood on the west side of Hollister all the way to the library, passing the high school, the Schneider’s raised garden (yes, I remember they were growing cabbages those years), beyond the old Health Foundation, and I knew we were getting close when we came upon the bird cage house. We’d arrive at the library and I’d be let loose to browse my favorites: books on tape, VHS stories, and Dr. Seuss. We’d pack our bag and walk home.

I don’t know if our community understands the sacredness of books and the social implications that come with free access, but I know that the library was a shining point in my childhood, and although I didn’t know how absolutely poor we were, I did know that we didn’t have money for a scoop of ice cream at Wapple’s pharmacy, and certainly didn’t have the money for the books sold their either.

In today’s world, it’s easy to forget that there are people who depend on the library as their sole source of materials and access to computers. Of course there are the library frequenters who use it out of their dedication to public services, and support of programming, but I feel that the library is most important to those whose voices you don’t get to hear, and whose stories you don’t read in your newsfeeds.

This is why I’ve become a member of the Friends of the Library, the nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the library. This Sunday, March 19 from 1-3:30 p.m. is their annual fundraiser: Champagne Tea & Treasures. Tickets are on sale now. You can call 831-205-1373 or message them through their Facebook page or send them an email through their website:

Please join me in helping to keep the library growing strong.


Rachelle Escamilla (Rachelle Escamilla)

Rachelle Escamilla is the host of "Out of Our Minds" on KKUP, author of "Imaginary Animal" and a columnist for Mission Village Voice.


Submitted by (Susan ) on

Rachelle- So well put! Thank you for your help and support! We all have the library as an open forum for each one of us, all are welcome. Its mission, access, and support is needed now more than ever. I hope our community leaders, library patrons, and the public can come together and create a future library, that continues to serve all of our community.

Thank you so much for your support and help!  Your story says so much to all of us, as it is the story of each of us, finding a place in our community that is free, open, and to all.  It seems access to our library and support of its mission is of even more urgency in these present times.  Community leaders, library patrons, and the public need to come together and have a forum to discuss our future library and what our community needs and wants. How can we develop a "future library committee" to discuss the next steps needed for us to move forward?

We can create the library of the people, for the people and by the people.  Lets get going!

Is it just me or does this little girl put a smile on your face too?  Thanks Rachelle for that and thanks to our many dedicated library workers and volunteers that keep our very own local library running. Let's all make a small donation to pitch in for this valuable resource that is available to all in the community. 

While I admire the Friends of the Library and the work they do, by any fair measure we have one of the worst county library systems in the state.  The capital for the library has been tragically under funded, it was only during the last year that the county and Hollister implemented a library impact fee.  Fifty years without a library impact fee?  When the library was built the country had a population of about 16,000, now it's 59,000.

This is not working, the county does not want to go to the voters and ask for a library bond because they want Hollister to pay more, but they want to keep it a free county library.  Why should Hollister pay more if it remains a county library?  Perhaps they should build their own municipal library, after all San Juan Bautista has one.  Too much local politics - power plays and too little value of education.  Physically we are 45 minutes from Silicon Valley, educationally we are on the other side of the earth.

The physical plant is inadequate as are much of the material collections according to the state database on libraries.  No amount of hard work and dedication will make this Model T win a race in the Tesla world.

Shame on us.

Marty Richman


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