History & Mission

San Jose Public Library Foundation History & Mission

Our History

At the heart of our community, libraries provide a place where everyone can learn, create, study and explore. Mrs. Ruth Kampa – a former librarian and President of the Library Commission — embraced this with her strong passion for the Library. In 1987, Ruth had the foresight to setup the San José Public Library Foundation (SJPLF) so that the Library could receive more than just public funding. In 1992, Ruth passed away and because of her bequest the Foundation was able to hire its first paid staff member. According to the original board members, “that was the tipping point that really put the Foundation in business.” The Foundation has changed and grown over the years but Ruth’s legacy to raise funds for our San José libraries still continues today.

Our Mission

The San José Public Library Foundation supports educational programs and resources through the public library, schools, and community-based organizations, to create an educated, equitable, empowered and engaged community. 

Our Vision

The San José Public Library Foundation envisions a community where everyone has equitable access to lifelong learning to reach their full potential in school, career, and life. 

Our Values


Ensure the needs and interests of our diverse communities are represented in the programs and goals of the foundation.


Pursue programs that improve access and opportunity for those who have the fewest resources.


Encourage new approaches to solve emerging needs by being a catalyst that adds new elements to existing programs and allows for high-risk/high-reward pilot programs.


Work with diverse stakeholders in business, government, nonprofits, and philanthropy to strengthen collective impact. 


Guarantee the financial continuity and fiscal responsibility and effectiveness for programs that we adopt.

The San Jose Public Library foundation is committed to helping grow the local communities by supporting your libraries.

Libraries ensure an equal playing field for all, where a community can gather to reconnect, re-engage and freely access information.  Your gift to the San José Public Library Foundation provides learning opportunities in our library branches for children, access to technology and a vast array of ideas making our children and adults future ready.

For more detailed information about the Foundation including our impact, list of donors, and a financial snapshot please click here to view our annual report.

Committed to Fiscal Stewardship

We take seriously the stewardship of funds raised to support the Library Foundation. We are proud that the San José Public Library Foundation (SJPLF) was awarded the high honor of America’s Best Charities Seal of Excellence. This is awarded to charitable organizations that meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. SJPLF was also given GuideStar’s Gold Seal because of our practice of transparency of records and cost effectiveness.