News

Palo Alto set to decide on new name for Main Library

With many options but no consensus, City Council prepares for a Monday debate

Palo Alto's seemingly endless debate over what to call the city's Main Library may finally be settled on Monday night, when Palo Alto officials are scheduled to consider the shifting menu of options and make a decision.

The decision has been stumping city officials for nearly half a year, with the Library Advisory Commission recommending that the name be changed to "Rinconada Library" to connote its location near Rinconada Park. The commission and library staff noted in their recommendation that most of the other city libraries are named after their locations and that the existing name is a bit of a misnomer because the branch is neither the largest (that would be the future Mitchell Park Library) library nor the administrative center (which is the Downtown Library). The Palo Alto Historical Association also supported "Rinconada," which means "elbow" or "inside corner" in Spanish.

Though some council members were willing to go along with this logic, others were underwhelmed by the proposal and argued that the branch should be named after a famous Palo Altan. Last September, the council kicked the discussion back to its Policy and Services Committee, which debated the topic in December. Like other discussions, this one ended in a stalemate, with Councilman Larry Klein and Councilwoman Gail Price advocating naming the Newell Road branch after a person (Klein threw out the names of Bill Hewlett, David Packard and Russell Lee) and Vice Mayor Liz Kniss and Councilwoman Karen Holman saying they were fine with keeping the name as Main Library.

The name of famous architect Birge Clark entered the mix late in the game, pitched by local architect John Northway. For the purposes of facilitating Monday's discussion, Klein and Price issued on Wednesday the tersest colleague's memo in the city's recent history, nominating Cark's name.

"The Policy and Services Committee deadlocked in attempting to fulfill the Council's direction to find an appropriate person in Palo Alto's history to honor by using that person's name as the new name for Main Library," the memo states. "In order to move this matter forward at Monday's council meeting we will move that Main Library be re-named in honor of Palo Alto's most beloved architect Birge Clark."

Comments

Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2014 at 10:22 am

What earthly possible good will come from renaming this library site? While it's true that it really will no longer be the main library, everyone knows it by that name, and it's not a hard name to learn. Otherwise, the Newell Road Branch seems like the next most logical choice.

As to Liz Kniss's--what do any of these people have to do with libraries in Palo Alto? Got to wonder what goes through this person's mind before she opens her mouth?


Posted by Kenny, a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2014 at 10:32 am

Is this another April Fool's joke?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2014 at 10:44 am

Main, or if we must change it Rinconada as I would never have known the name of the street but know it is right beside Rinconada Park. The name has to help people find it, rather than confuse people. After all, we still talk about City Hall Plaza because that is where it is.


Posted by Jared Bernstein, a resident of Professorville
on Apr 3, 2014 at 10:56 am

Rinconada is fine! I knew Birge and Esther Clark, and both were pillars of virtue and community involvement, but ... Mitchell Park is Mitchell Park, and College Terrace is College Terrace. (Tho I do submit that Clark is better than the name of some super rich person).


Posted by Judith, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:01 am

It seems odd to name a library designed by one famous architect after a different famous architect, no matter how beloved! I go for the geographical name - Newell or Rinconada. There was once a lovely proposal for a Rinconada Cultural District, in which the Art Center, the Children's and (whatever) Library and the park were planned together; I think the Rinconada idea may be left over from that.


Posted by Ellie, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:03 am

Birge Clark isn't the architect of this building, for pete's sake. Edward Durrell Stone is - our other famous architect in town. What is he - chopped liver? He designed a beloved library that is an historic building. To name it after Clark is not only confusing, it makes us sound ignorant as if we don't know who designed what. It is also disrespectful to Stone.

If the name is to change, make it appropriate and not insulting. Be nice to name it after someone who had something to do with books, writing, etc. We have had so many authors in PA, is there not one that would be great?


Posted by Geezer, a resident of Professorville
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:21 am

Kathleen Norris?


Posted by KP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

I hope the council members read the comments of the people that live here.
I agree, it should be a name that is a helpful locator...Rinconada makes so much sense (I guess I forgot, common sense is never used by our city council)!
This is such a stupid discussion!


Posted by Leave it alone, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

Talk about useless make-work.
The money interests in the south part of town seem to have a deep seated envy of the north part.
Nothing will satisfy them.
What's next? Build a behemoth badly designed library near Mitchell Park? (oops!)


Posted by Emily Renzel, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:29 am

If Main Library has to be renamed, I think the recommendation of Rinconada is a good one. It will always be Main Library to me, regardless.

It seems odd to me that some folks are proposing to name Main for Birge Clark, when the City owns the Birge Clark designed Senior Center which would more appropriately be named for him. If the City succeeds in acquiring the old downtown Post Office, also designed by Birge Clark, that too would be much more fitting testimonial to Birge Clark's works in the city. Main Library, designed by Edward Durrell Stone, is not at all reflective of the Spanish style architecture for which Birge Clark is so well known. It is almost an insult to put Birge Clark's name there. Should this bizarre idea go forward, it ought to be referred back to the HRB for their input.

A greater honor for Birge Clark would be to provide landmark protection for the many beautiful homes he designed in Palo Alto, some of which have already been demolished.

Please respect the work of the Historic Resources Board and others and re-name Main Library "Rinconada" if you must re-name it at all. If Council wants to name the library after a person, how about Tom Wyman who was largely responsible for the founding of the Library Commission and was one of its first commissioners. Tom devoted hundreds of hours in support of Palo Alto's Library system.



Posted by 35 year resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:36 am

I'm surprised that City Council didn't recommend hiring a consultant for about $120,000 to come up with a name. They're good at that.


Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:47 am

It's heartening to see the city council spending time on this issue because that suggests they won't be screwing up something else :).


Posted by Kenneth C. Kaufman, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:51 am

Take the vote - keep Main or if necessary Riconada. Not a person. For each name you suggest, you reject many another good person who has wired behind the scenes.


Posted by Garden Gnome, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

Just thinking outside the box on this one, but how about:

Main Library


Posted by PA Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm

If it's named Rinconada and Mitchell is named Main, will South PA quit complaining about not having "anything" on their side of town?


Posted by Hal, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm

No.


Posted by kim, a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 3, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Keep it Main.


Posted by senor blogger, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Please do not open the Pandoras Box of naming taxpayer Buildings after individuals , UNLESS, they are willing to pay the entire cost of the Building.


Posted by So, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Why pay for the costs that renaming will cause? Are all the pot holes filled?


Posted by Leave it alone, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm

What is the cost of this boondoggle? How much will be spent on new signs, new stationery, new maps, new fliers (the library has a zillion of them) mistakes people with current maps will make, changing several websites, and external references to Main on the web.
Do these people intend to pay for all of this? I do not want my taxes wasted on a vanity project.


Posted by Rinconada, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Rinconada


Posted by midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm

"Rinconada Library" gets my vote.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 3, 2014 at 1:43 pm

If this is to be designated as a 'neighborhood library", NO ONE asked the 'neighborhood to vote on it. This is beyond silly. "Leave it alone" is correct. This WILL cost a lot of money, and no doubt the city will hire a consultant to do the details or, horrors, a new $150K "Manager for the Unnecessary". Fix the potholes. Fix the streets. I've lived here many years. Nothing surprises me anymore. But one thing is for sure. THIS city council marches to its own drummer and pays no attention to the residents. This library technically serves the area from Bayshore 101 to El Camino plus College Terrace and from the Oregon Expressway to the Creek . Downtown is a smaller branch library as is/was College Terrace. Why ask or tell this council ANYTHING. Civic brain dead. Don't they understand their 'growing unpopularity"?


Posted by HUTCH 7.62, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Posted by So, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
1 hour ago

"Why pay for the costs that renaming will cause? Are all the pot holes filled?"



Fix the roads and aging infrastructure fist.


Posted by bp, no not that BP, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I can't believe that anyone in their right mind would want a library in this town named for them. This is just a distraction that it is hoped will make us forget about the Mitchell Park Library which is now two years past its opening date. I do wonder if it will ever open since it has,, among many other problems one with mold. It seems as though no one who is in charge of this project (there is some one in charge, right?) any longer wants to talk about the Mitchell Park library.


Posted by Menlo Parker, a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm

What a waste of time and money! Palo Alto politicians prove again how trivial they are. Main is a perfectly fine name, known to everyone. My second choice would be Newell, for the location. Certainly not Hewlett, Packard, Lee, or Clark, none of whom is associated with libraries.


Posted by LVK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Why not "Joe Six Pack"?


Posted by muttiallen, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm

muttiallen is a registered user.

Rinconada!!


Posted by emily, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 3, 2014 at 3:19 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Susan , a resident of Community Center
on Apr 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Keep it simple and locational -- Newell or Rinconada will do


Posted by Deb, a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm

How about Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Library?


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Go really outside the box: rename Newell Road to be Main Street.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Call it the North Palo Alto Library. Call Mitchell Park Library, the South Palo Alto Library. Then close the downtown fiasco.


Posted by OldAlum, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 3, 2014 at 5:44 pm

How about Obama Library. It looks good, has had a lot of publicity but still isn't done.


Posted by just wondering ??, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 3, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Speaking of libraries, when with the Mitchell Park library open? As I drive by, it looks finished, it is fenced off, no one is doing any work there….. It's already way behind schedule. Why is it not open?


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 6:14 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

MAIN
It has a rig to it!
It was not broken, don't *fix* it.


Posted by Just a Thought, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 3, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Gary Fazzino Library!


Posted by Citizen, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 8:02 pm

One vote for "Fort Awesome"


Posted by resident, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 3, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Will always be the "Main Library" to me. Is this all our city council has to think about!


Posted by Dennis, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:26 pm

If not Main Library, then how about: "The Library Formerly Know As Main"


Posted by ChrisC, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:52 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

Rinconada is a great name. I do not like the idea of naming it after a person, because what seems to happen with that, is when the person is out of favor or forgotten, then the name gets changed. Or, here's a great idea, let some corporation give money to Palo Alto City to put their name on it, then every two years another company can change it. Palo Alto does like the big corporations and chains. Hey, this would've been a good one for the April Fools issue, and like others in it--too sadly believable.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:56 pm

@Dennis, sounds like a winner, in a Purple Rain sort of way!


Posted by Kit, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 4, 2014 at 12:50 am

Rinconada is logical - have used Main for more than 50 years but can handle change.


Posted by So, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2014 at 9:12 am

If the logic here is that libraries now need geographic names to make life easier, then why was there not a proposal for a new name for the children's library? Just leave it alone, save the money. People will find it. It's name will not dethrone other more worthy libraries in the system.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 4, 2014 at 11:01 am

Riconada Library makes the most sense. All the other libraries are named for geographic location (Downtown, Mitchell Park, College Terrace), except Children's Library which obviously has a functional name.

I'm just wondering if this naming business initiated by Klein is the beginning of trying to sell naming rights in the city. Right now they are only considering dead names, but perhaps that will change in the future.

Strange issues to spend so much time and energy on.
Please, let's get Mitchell Park Library completed and open!!


Posted by Jonathan, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2014 at 6:18 pm

They want to stop calling it Main because Mitchell
Park is larger, but they're not renaming Mitchell
Park as the new Main Library.

Main has to be considered in context with the
Children's Library; because they are so close, Main
has never had a full children's section. The idea
that people seem to have lost sight of is that Main
and Children's together make one full-service
"Main" library, and provide a center to the Palo Alto
library system. I fail to see how expanding Mitchell
Park takes away from that. Main should be called
"Main." Or, if people prefer, perhaps "Historic Main
Library," since it's an historic building and thus
couldn't just be torn down to build a new library in
its place.


Posted by David, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2014 at 7:43 pm

I hope council members are reading the messages. Naming the former main post office building after Birge Clark would be a better honor for is legacy (as it was pointed out above that he designed the PO). I agree with others who have pointed out that all the other libraries are named after geographic locations except for the children's library.


Posted by Barry Soetoro , a resident of Professorville
on Apr 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm

It's obvious what it will be. There are only 3 choices.

MLK,
Cesar Chavez
Harvey Milk

wildcard: Norman Mineta Library


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

A library is defined as "a place set apart to contain books, periodicals, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference, ..."

Since the PA Library Dept has de-emphasized the role of the collection and prioritized having the building as a place for people to meet and as providing "open space" for people to bring laptops, tablets, ... to do whatever.

Consequently, Palo Alto should not be reconsidering just the "Main" portion of the name, but the "Library" portion as well. May I suggest "The Rinconada Indoor Open Space Preserve" or "Rinconada Table Land" or "Rinconada Study Hall" or "Seats and Tables Are Us"


Posted by Eileen1, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2014 at 7:55 am

@Douglas Moran

Best name EVER!

"The Rinconada Indoor Open Space Preserve"

Gets my vote!


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 7, 2014 at 9:24 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by ndtown, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 7, 2014 at 9:26 am

It ain't broke, don't fix it. Keep the name, don't waste time and money....


Posted by oops!, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

From Council Members Klein and Price April 7,2014
Re: Item 22, Renaming of Main Library
The Policy and Services Committee deadlocked in attempting to fulfill the Council's direction to find an appropriate person in Palo Alto's history to honor by using that person's name as the new name for Main Library. In order to move this matter forward at Monday's Council meeting we will move that Main Library be re-named in honor of Palo Alto's most beloved architect Birge Clark.
-
OOPS!This memo from Larry Klein and Gail Price shows what a joke this renaming is. Main Library was designed by Edward Durell Stone, not Birge Clark.


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