Palo Alto's seemingly endless debate over what to call the city's Main Library may finally be settled on Monday night, when Palo Alto officials are scheduled to consider the shifting menu of options and make a decision.
The decision has been stumping city officials for nearly half a year, with the Library Advisory Commission recommending that the name be changed to "Rinconada Library" to connote its location near Rinconada Park. The commission and library staff noted in their recommendation that most of the other city libraries are named after their locations and that the existing name is a bit of a misnomer because the branch is neither the largest (that would be the future Mitchell Park Library) library nor the administrative center (which is the Downtown Library). The Palo Alto Historical Association also supported "Rinconada," which means "elbow" or "inside corner" in Spanish.
Though some council members were willing to go along with this logic, others were underwhelmed by the proposal and argued that the branch should be named after a famous Palo Altan. Last September, the council kicked the discussion back to its Policy and Services Committee, which debated the topic in December. Like other discussions, this one ended in a stalemate, with Councilman Larry Klein and Councilwoman Gail Price advocating naming the Newell Road branch after a person (Klein threw out the names of Bill Hewlett, David Packard and Russell Lee) and Vice Mayor Liz Kniss and Councilwoman Karen Holman saying they were fine with keeping the name as Main Library.
The name of famous architect Birge Clark entered the mix late in the game, pitched by local architect John Northway. For the purposes of facilitating Monday's discussion, Klein and Price issued on Wednesday the tersest colleague's memo in the city's recent history, nominating Cark's name.
"The Policy and Services Committee deadlocked in attempting to fulfill the Council's direction to find an appropriate person in Palo Alto's history to honor by using that person's name as the new name for Main Library," the memo states. "In order to move this matter forward at Monday's council meeting we will move that Main Library be re-named in honor of Palo Alto's most beloved architect Birge Clark."