OB library officials view new downtown facility as boon and inspiration
by Dave Schwab
Published - 10/30/13 - 01:12 PM | 8238 views | 0 0 comments | 590 590 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The new central library includes a reading room under its latticed dome. Photo by Kimberly Morgan I The Beacon
The new central library includes a reading room under its latticed dome. Photo by Kimberly Morgan I The Beacon
With its gleaming silver dome etched across the downtown’s cityscape, the new, nine-story central library was officially dedicated in September with praise, song and cheers from a throng of well-wishers.

“Luminous, inspiring, iconic, the San Diego Central Library is a beacon of knowledge,” proclaimed city librarian Deborah Barrow of the new centerpiece of the municipal library system with its 35 neighborhood branches.

The opening of the new downtown central library will be a boon for community libraries like the Ocean Beach branch at 4801 Santa Monica Ave., one of the city’s smallest libraries.

“We did have a boost in our circulation while the downtown library was closed,” said Ocean Beach Library branch manager Matt Beatty, who noted the new downtown library “is going to improve things” for San Diegans, making previously inaccessible books in the old library basement accessible.

Beatty said the way libraries are being utilized has changed as “people do most of their work these days online and pick up books wherever it’s most convenient.”

He said the new downtown facility is symbolic of the enduring value of education and how that’s prized in San Diego.

“It’s more like a flagship than anything else, like a main store,” said Beatty.

He said the facility is state-of-the-art and that its rooms are “acoustically much better than in the branches.”

Beatty praised the new library for having age-specific areas for children and teens, which could serve as a prototype for future development in libraries elsewhere.

“There are so many separate conference and meeting areas, it’s a good place to have citywide functions,” Beatty said.

Beatty said the Ocean Beach branch serves lots of young families and has special programs like baby storytime on Fridays and baby yoga on Tuesdays.

The Ocean Beach branch is open Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 12:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Libraries in the age of the Internet?

At the Sept. 28 downtown library dedication, Barrow noted the facility was “30 years in the making” and “a dream come true.”

The new downtown library replaces the former facility at 820 E. St. which was built 57 years ago to serve about 15,000 patrons when the city’s population was less than 500,000. Today, the city’s population is 1.25 million and more than 480,000 people use the central library alone.

Barrow said the new $196.7 million central library is centrally located, as well, with easy access by freeway, trolley, bus or air.

“Do we need a central library in the age of the Internet?” asked Barrow answering, “Yes, and we’ve got one.”

The design of the new, 497,652-square-foot Central Library building at 330 Park Blvd. reflects the input of hundreds of people who participated in a year-long series of public workshops. Based on their input, the joint-venture team of Rob Wellington Quigley FAIA and Tucker Sadler Architects collaborated on the structure of the library building, which offers flexible spaces with diverse and accessible public amenities including bay-view terraces, roof gardens and a public reading room. Special features include a flexible Special Events room on the ninth floor, a state-of-the-art auditorium, and a beautiful reading room under the landmark lattice dome.

The new library has high-speed, wireless Internet throughout the building, more than 400 computers and tablets, a TV studio, an art gallery and sculpture court and even a high school on two floors.

The full name of the new facility is The San Diego Central Library at Joan & Irwin Jacobs Common.
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