In California, A Library's Name Reveals Tensions in a Diverse Community

March 11, 2004

Source: The Mercuy News

On March 11, 2004 The Mercuy News reported, "The skeleton of a new library is taking shape on Tully Road while a debate over the building's name has pitted longtime residents against their newer, Vietnamese-American neighbors. A diverse mix of older, largely white and Latino residents in the south central enclave see the $11 million city library as a proud achievement and want the building's name to reflect the agricultural history of the area and its geographic location. Vietnamese-Americans in recent years have transformed the area bordered by highways 87, 280 and 101 into a bustling business and residential district. They now account for one in five residents, and some want the library's name to recognize their contributions. The San Jose Library Commission has come up with a compromise: Tully-New Saigon Library. But that compromise hasn't been embraced by everyone in the community, because the dispute is not just about a name. It is about the growing pains of a once bucolic bedroom community near downtown San Jose amid dramatic growth and demographic change. And complicating the issue is a pattern of cultural misunderstanding that has stirred frustration for everyone involved ... Association members tried to mend relations by recruiting Vietnamese-Americans at the Perfect Virtue Buddhist temple on McLaughlin Avenue. But that solicitation was viewed as culturally insensitive because the temple is a spiritual oasis."