What is surprising and of equal but less visible importance is an underlying debate over the size of the Atherton Library and who it will serve. As a member of the San Mateo County Library System, the Atherton Branch Library's mandate is to serve the general public's information needs, to serve the public interest, and be open and welcoming of every community member.
The Atherton Library has been serving Atherton and unincorporated San Mateo County areas for many years. With over 9,400 Atherton Library cardholders, it certainly seems appropriate and reasonable to conclude that the Atherton Library serves a broader community and that the library should continue to serve those community members and any other person interested in availing themselves of the wonderful public library services we all enjoy.
However, current and former council persons express the notion that the library should be sized to only accommodate Atherton residents because only town residents are paying for the new building via the Donor City Fund. This is a troubling sentiment — that a community as fortunate as ours would consider deliberately planning a library centered on only accommodating themselves, when in fact they can afford to do otherwise. Do we want to be defined as a community not interested in sharing a place that provides opportunities for learning and literacy for all? I certainly hope not.
Denise Kupperman, Chair, Atherton Library Building Steering Committee