What does a secret hiding spot, a hilarious window, and a really creepy lock of aged hair have in common? They’re all part of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. library in San Jose, which is so much more than a bunch of books and college students half-reading them. If you’re meandering through downtown, stop in at the library and check out these hidden gems along with a favorite book:
Secret in the Browsing Library: On the first floor of the library in the area labeled “Browsing Library” you’ll find a Harry Potter-esque secret hiding space. One of the bookshelves, when pushed, will swing open and reveal a space large enough to hide inside.
The Reason Why San Jose is the North American Vienna: Thanks to a donation in the early ‘80’s by avid Beethoven collector, Ira F. Brilliant, the DMLK library’s third floor houses the largest collection of Beethoven paraphernalia outside of Europe. An impressive collection of fortepianos, manuscripts in Beethoven’s own handwriting, and…yes…a now famous lock of Beethoven’s hair (clipped off of his dead body by a visitor to the funeral home where he was temporarily housed *shudder*), make this museum a must-see if you’re making your way through the library’s oddities.
Alice’s Adventures in the Elevator: In the southernmost elevator on the first floor of the library, you’ll see a door that is totally inefficient for anyone riding up to check out a science textbook, but just perfect if you’re 2 feet tall and fixing to go to Wonderland. The door, otherwise known as the “Hatch,” is a work of art by Mel Chin, who contributed to artistic installations throughout the library.
The Burned and the Banned: Throughout the library are bookshelves that stand over “vaults” of books that have been burned or otherwise banned in the past.
Wisecracking Windows: On the 7th floor bridge you’ll find a window paying homage to artist Marcel Duchamp’s “Large Glass.” Look closely and you’ll find that the cracks are comprised of eensy-weensy etched jokes and puns.
Am I hearing things?: On the third floor around call numbers 642-658, you’ll hear the sound of pages turning above you followed by the sound of a book closing as you reach the end of the row.
Finish your trip to the library with a literature-themed sandwich from On Fourth: A Novel Café on the ground floor. (I highly recommend the “Great Gatsby!”) For a complete list of oddities to round out your library scavenger hunt, visit http://www.sjlibrary.org/melchin-art-list.
This is great. YOUKNOWHWATIMEAN.
I…had no idea our library was so cool. I lived in SJ for HOW many years and never once went there?
I had no idea the San Jose Library…..allowed people with those types of hats inside.
Good inside scoop though!
Man Jose is such an awesome town. This is the best blog ever!!!!!!
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I was performing a google image search for the Beethoven Center in San Jose and came up with your blog photo. We are the manufacturer of the Beethoven inspired wood floor design featured at the museum, but we don’t currently have any photos of the finished product at the museum. I was wondering if you’d mind if we used your image in our marketing materials?
Thanks for your time! Hope to hear from you soon!
Absolutely! We’re happy to let you use the photos. Could we have a photo credit for it?
Certainly! Would you be able to email me high-resolution photos? How would you like me to put the photo credit when used on our website? Can I just do it in the code or do you need me to put text or a small watermark on the image?
I’m headed to SJSU for grad school this fall and am so glad you made this site! Thank you 🙂
Excellent choice for grad school! We’ll have to do a Secrets of SJSU post. 😉