Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Pages of Impact

A journey into how Mitchell Park Library unites and empowers its community
Pages+of+Impact
4 MIN READ

Amidst the lively conversations of attendees at the Persian New Year event Nowruz, held at the Mitchell Park Library’s Community Center, the front stage features a mesmerizing performance. Dancers adorned in shiny accessories and flowing dresses move gracefully to the rhythmic beat of drums and flute, captivating the audience with their smiles and intricate formations that change every few repetitions.

RuthAnn Garcia, the library’s services manager, sees the activities hosted by the library as a chance to foster appreciation for diverse cultures.

“I really love these cultural celebrations  because they bring out a lot of different activities, performances and dances that a lot of people may not have much exposure to,” Garcia said. “It gives chances for everyone, especially kids, to see other kids performing and learning about their culture too.”

According to Garcia, the library often holds cultural events to honor the diversity in the Bay Area. 

“We have a large Persian population here in town, and so this is one of the events that we identified as being something important to the community,” Garcia said. “But it’s not just for our Persian community, it’s for everyone to come and learn about it.”

 

 

Not only does Mitchell Park Library host community events, but they have events specifically for certain audiences from younger children to senior citizens as well. 

For teens, the library encourages youth participation through their Teen Library Advisory Board, also known as TLAB. The board of students assists the library in organizing programs, projects, and materials. Veronica Qiu, a member of TLAB, states that they help organize events for leisure as well.

“We’ve done events in the past like movie nights or art workshops,” Qiu said. “We did some sewing workshops and also celebrated certain months, like the current Women’s History Month… A big project we’ve done in the past was redoing the teen rooms, in both Mitchell Park and Rinconada. We decorated the space and bought new furniture and supplies for the room.”

With the library brimming with events, Mitchell Park Library also seeks to bridge the gap between readers with many book creators. Guest authors and illustrators are invited to talk with library attendees, particularly younger individuals.

“Christian Robinson illustrated ‘Gaston’ and he’s done several others. He gave a really interesting talk,” Gail, the library pager, said.

Outside of engagement through socializing, the architecture of the library plays a crucial part towards encouraging more visitors. Shankar finds that the Mitchell Park Library design provides a welcoming and warm environment. 

“I’ve been to several Palo Alto libraries, but this one in particular seems like a very happy space because of the amount of light that the library has,” Shankar said. “And also it’s two levels, so it’s very nice… Mitchell Park Library is definitely more community centered than many other libraries.”

Additional amenities include Midtown Community Room, the Teen Zone, Ventura Tech Lab and Kids Place. Ramya Shankar, a regular visitor to the library, cites the various areas as a reason for the library’s success. 

“I like the different zones of the library,” Shankar said. “When my kids were younger, we loved the children’s zone because they have a corner to play at and they also have a lot of nice children’s books… There’s also a zone upstairs, which works out really well. I found upstairs to be one of the most productive areas to work in, amongst many places.”

While many individuals appreciate the activities and space the library holds, others like Israel Calderon appreciate the variety of resources individuals are able to check out from the library. 

“They have a good variety of new movies that come out,” Calderon said. “Certain people can’t afford to rent or go to the movie theater, so they can come in here, rent a movie and enjoy it at home as a family.” 

Opening in 1999, the Mitchell Park Library initially started as a traditional library, utilizing a card catalog and not having any computers. However, the technology boom in the early 2000s led to books becoming increasingly digitized, prompting libraries to install online catalogs to adapt to the new trends.

Although many feared technology would replace books, Gail believes that technology brought people in.

“In the way that people can access those things [books, etc.] that they may not be able to do at home, I think it’s expanded and become so much better,” Gail said. 

As a direct effect of this tech boom, the Mitchell Park Library is able to provide a wide range of language learning resources including LOTE4Kids and Mango Languages online. Matt Watson, a library clerk at the library, notes the specific programs.

“We do have English as a second language programs,” Watson said. “For beginners and advanced, we have a pretty extensive foreign language collection. There was an emphasis on Chinese and Russian, but we have a lot of other languages as well.”

Calderon appreciates how the library serves as a place where people still have the option to read physical books in contrast to eBooks on Kindle or the web. 

“As an older person that has kids, the library means a lot because you get away from a lot of technology,” Calderon said.

While many are satisfied with the library’s services, Shankar still hopes the library can continue to expand. 

“There were one or two [programs] that I went to which were rather nice, but I myself as a music educator, have tried several times to get into the system to be able to teach in one of the rooms and it’s very hard to get in touch with anyone,” Shankar said. “I’ve tried applying online, I’ve tried calling, and so I find it a bit disconnected. I wish they would improve that particular aspect of it.”

Despite these minute issues, Mitchell Park Library has become a haven for students and community members alike. Gunn sophomore, Samuel Chen, attests to the library’s great range in functionalities.

“It’s definitely a meeting center and a hub for the community… People just go there because it’s a place where everyone else goes to meet, study, work and whatnot,” Chen said. “Overall, it’s provided the space and facilities for great things to happen where they wouldn’t haven’t happened elsewhere, whether that be a benefit concert that I participated in or [my] weekly Scioly study meetings.”

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About the Contributors
Sophia Zhang, Staff Writer
2023-2024 Staff Writer I joined C-Mag because I love their attention to graphic design and how they bring attention to not only different cultures, but also multiple facets of art. I love journalism and design since it encourages me to explore more and execute interesting ideas. I enjoy drawing while watching a good tv series, reading, and listening to music. An aspiration of mine is to travel around the world to fun places.
Sophia Dong, Staff Writer
2023-2024 Staff Writer   I joined CMag because I thought writing about culture and arts was extremely unique. Additionally, the feature-centered writing was really appealing as I started appreciating the intersection of visual art and writing. My favorite part of CMag is the community. I enjoy interacting with other individuals sharing who also appreciate arts and culture. I love journalism because I enjoy writing! I feel like it gives me an opportunity to develop my writing skills and express my thoughts in a unique way. While I haven't been as interested in design, I enjoy formatting and coming up with concept ideas for a given spread. Aside from journalism, I'm interested in engineering, especially circuits and audio analyzing. I also enjoy applied math and physics. Additionally, I play the flute and am currently in a youth orchestra. In college, I hope to major in applied math or electrical engineering/computer science (EECS). I also look forward to continuing my flute endeavors and joining a college publication!