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Gilroy Museum Volunteers Memories Are Made of This Written By Larry J. Mickartz T he stately William H. Meeks building on the corner of 5th and Church started out as the “Gilroy Free Library.” The Carnegie Library Building was built with a $10,000 grant from the Andrew Carnegie. The land, which was home to a tennis court, was donated by Caroline A. Howett. Over the years it has morphed into a classic small museum with exhibits from the early days of Gilroy as a native American settlement to more recent days of historical signifi cance. From 1963 to 2009 the Museum was managed by the City of Gilroy Parks and Recreation Department. With the financial crash in 2009 the City stopped staffing the Museum and it became a volunteer- run institution. The Gilroy Museum Management Committee has an affiliation with the City of Gilroy and the Gilroy Historical Society. The City provides building maintenance, landscaping and a modest budget to help with preservation of the collections. The Gilroy Historical Society provides additional support, funding, and manages the museum grants and endowments with assistance from the Gilroy Foundation. The Museum has four areas of focus: to gather new artifacts, to maintain the existing collections, to provide tours, and to function as a research facility with an emphasis on Gilroy and its families. These lofty areas of focus are managed by a dedicated group of thirty-one volunteers who staff the museum and work on the collections in the basement holding/processing area. In the actual museum upstairs, collections are rotated. Within their limited budget, the Museum follows the Standards and Best Practices of the American Alliance of Museums. In other words, this little museum is playing by big guy rules! Tom Howard is the Museum Coordinator. In addition to the various exhibits the Museum has a healthy collection of photographs and information on people, places and events from Gilroy’s past. The Museum has a set of Gilroy Dispatch news- papers from 1868 to 2008. Hard copies are available from 1939 to 2008. The older copies are available on a microfiche viewer because the original hard copies, which are fragile, are kept in the basement under environmentally-controlled museum standards. The Museum is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 4 pm and on the first Saturday of the month from 10 am to 2 pm. To volunteer or to get more information about the Gilroy Museum, call 408.846.0446 or email: gilroy.museum@ci.gilroy.ca.us. Photographed above, recently the Gilroy Museum Management Committee and the Gilroy Historical Society honored three nonagenarian museum volunteers, Muriel Brem (90), Lil Barton (91), and Horace Fabing (91). Betty Jean Kelley, volunteer since 2009, and Nancy Alford, volunteer since 2014, catalogue a silk and lace folding parasol from around 1858. “I enjoy telling the history of Gilroy… helping people fi nd parents and grandparents.” Betty Jean Kelley The Museum recently acquired a microphone for a 40’s telephone operator, which was Betty Jean’s first job right out of high school in 1947. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 gmhtoday.com 61