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Polis Report

On the Shelf

By Michael Learmonth

Andrew Saucedo, 13, gazes at a Web page of Tupac Shakur. He's trying to print a copy to hang on his bedroom wall. His brother, Alfredo Garcia, 8, keeps pestering, "Is it my turn to use the computer?" Gabriel Aguilar, 10, leafs through a Goosebumps book, while Bianca Aguilar, 8, and Quarina Garcia, 9, try to find Waldo.

It's another summer morning in the Children's Room on the first floor of San Jose's Martin Luther King Library. The five children walk from their home a few blocks away to spend the morning reading and exploring the Internet. In the afternoon, they walk over to Cesar Chavez Park, strip down to their bathing suits and jump in the fountains.

"I'm gonna sit on one," Alfredo boasts.

Next month, the children will have to change their summer routine. San Jose's main library is closing for the entire month of August while it replaces the dingy, 27-year-old brown carpet with a $166,000 swatch of carpet called "forever blue."

"A month!" exclaims Gabriel, looking down at the carpet. "It don't even look dirty!"

But it is, says Paul Underwood, acting assistant city librarian. It's not only dirty, but the bare spots and patches make it a hazard.

"We chose August because it is our slowest time," says Underwood. "The summer reading program ends the week before we close."

Underwood explains that this is the first time in the 27-year history of MLK Library that it's been closed for maintenance. The stacks will all have to be moved, and some will get additional spacing for the handicapped and extra bracing against earthquakes. Cabling will be upgraded to permit the switch to an online catalog in 1998. All of the improvements are funded by Measure E, which gave the library an additional $5 million for maintenance.

Aw, but do you have to close it the whole month? Says Underwood: "Just be thankful we're not painting."

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From the July 17-23, 1997 issue of Metro.

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