« Back to Raising the Image

Silicon Valley Reads 2010

Santa Clara County Library

Innovation Leader: Melinda Cervantes, Executive Director and County Librarian, melinda.cervantes@lib.sccgov.org

Problem Statement

The Santa Clara County Library has partnered with the San Jose Public Library Foundation and the Santa Clara County Office of Education for nearly 10 years to promote reading and literacy, broaden the exposure to and appreciation of good literature, and build community. Students, friends, families, co-workers, neighbors, booklovers – literally all who live, work or learn in Silicon Valley may participate in Silicon Valley Reads programs. Public events are scheduled to spark discussion of the themes of the selected books. Books selected for Silicon Valley Reads Month meet the following criteria: Reflect universal issues relevant to Silicon Valley Appeal to diverse audiences are appropriate for both adults and young adults are the work of a living author. New sponsors and partners are forged each year with the goal of raising $50,000 annually to support Silicon Valley Reads.

Innovation

In 2010, the Silicon Valley Reads Selection Committee chose Michael Pollan’s book, “In Defense of Food.” In 200 pages, Pollan outlines the challenge and offers a straightforward manifesto -- "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." -- as well as practical advice on how to accomplish these deceptively simple goals. Rather than the 20+ programs by one author countywide that usually occur, this year’s author, Michael Pollan was only available for one event. So, we pulled out all the stops and put together a variety of programs with local celebrities (Chef Martin Yan and Master Chef and Nutritionist Chef Lala and authors David Mas Masumoto, Janet Stevens, Jonah Raskin and Novella Carpenter) to fill out the series of events for February and March.

Progress

New partners such as The Health Trust (http://www.healthtrust.org/)and First Five (http://www.first5kids.org/) stepped up with additional funding and local farmers and markets joined in the fun. Companion books for children and tweens, “Carrot Soup” by John Segal and “Tops & Bottoms” by Janet Stevens and “Seedfolks” by Paul Fleischman were added for the first time to encourage family participation. 2010 was a banner year with over $80,000 raised for Silicon Valley Reads and nearly 5,000 people in attendance at over 80 programs countywide.