The facility will be forever known as the Steve Tate Library

By Marty Cheek

Former Mayor Steve Tate

For more than two decades, Steve Tate has been a strong proponent of the Morgan Hill Library as well as other public libraries in Santa Clara County. The former mayor’s dedication to the building and the services it provides was recognized Oct. 9 when the city renamed the facility the Morgan Hill Steve Tate Library.

At the ceremony, friends, family members and colleagues gathered in front of the library where the added name was concealed behind paper attached to strings ready to be pulled down. Speeches praised Tate for his various activities including helping pass two parcel taxes in 2004 and 2013 to fund the Santa Clara County Library System and the Friends of the Morgan Hill Library’s Beyond Books Campaign, which raised nearly $250,000 for art projects and programs to enhance the library experience for patrons.

“People ask me, ‘How do you react to getting a building named after you?’” he told the crowd. “And, you know, my reaction is that I’m so deeply honored but I’m also proud at the same time. It’s a great feeling.”

Mayor Rich Constantine praised Tate for continuing to volunteer in supporting the library.

“This council has always prioritized supporting our youth and our seniors. And I can think of no building in the city that personifies that more than our library,” he said. “And for more than 20 plus years and counting, Steve Tate has not only been a supporter of our library but he has also personified those values as well. So I can think of no better tribute to Steve than to name our library after our former mayor.”

Carol O’Hare, a Friends board member, described how Tate was almost trampled during the July 2007 dedication ceremony of the newly built library by excited residents happy to discover what wonders the new facility held.

“One of my most vivid memories, after the speeches when Steve cut the ribbon the doors were open and all those people eagerly rushed into the building, nearly knocking over the mayor,” she said.

County Supervisor Mike Wasserman congratulated Tate on the honor, describing him as someone who always came well prepared to the meetings of the library district’s Joint Powers Authority, the governing board that Tate sought to be on when he was elected to the city council in 1998.

“An honor like this, on a public building, I have not seen in my 19 years as an elected official, for a person still alive,” he said.

With his passion for community access, Tate worked to ensure that library services were available to all. He led an effort within the community to make certain all children in Morgan Hill had a library card.

When the County Library District and city were looking to build the new library, Tate ran a countywide effort to raise funding for the Morgan Hill Library, as well as raise funds for libraries throughout the county.

With the library Children’s Area addition project recently completed, various community members requested the city council rename the library the “Morgan Hill Steve Tate Library.”

One letter dated Nov. 24, 2020 from residents Roger and Janie Knopf, proposed the resolution to rename the library after Tate by describing his many hours as an elected official and as a volunteer with the Friends dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the library.

“When Morgan Hill needed to rebuild our library, we turned to Steve Tate to create a budget and political plan to gain support and get the job done. When the county’s library district needed to find new funding, it was Steve Tate who stepped up and ran a countywide campaign to raise much-needed tax dollars to rebuilding libraries across the county.

“We can think of no better recognition for former Mayor Steve Tate,” the letter said. “It is rare in today’s political climate that someone can serve in elected office for 20 years, indeed it is unlikely to happen ever again.

“Timing is important as the Morgan Hill Library is near completion of a much-anticipated expansion program. The completion of the expansion will be the perfect time to rename the facility in honor of Steve Tate’s 20 years to serve the community.”

Former City Councilmember Larry Carr served as the emcee of the renaming event and described to the audience the history of the Morgan Hill Library from research he had done:

“The Morgan Hill Library was established as a branch of the Santa Clara County Library System in 1912. Now, I don’t remember that first library, but I have heard stories when the library moved in the ‘60s to what was then known as the Nob Hill Shopping Center on the corner of Hale and Main. The library was an original occupant of that shopping center and was a cornerstone of that center.”

Marty Cheek