Monday, August 19, 2013

We Are Almost There

We have made outstanding progress at the new Central Library toward our opening in late September. Staff moved into the new library a few weeks ago and we have almost all of the collections onsite, save some of the artwork. Various systems and equipment are being installed, too. We are almost there…

New technologies will be introduced at the Central Library. Servers are being installed to help us manage the hundreds of computers that will be available for public use. In a building with seven floors and approximately 300 hundred networked computers, how will you know which one is available for you to use? The answer: The Central Library’s computer reservation system!

Some of the new systems are being tested at the new library, too. We are excited to soon introduce our new automated materials handling system. Our technician, Tim from Lyngsoe, tells me that the system will convey materials all the way from the Children’s Room clear over to the other end of the building, traversing 60 meters, so items can be checked in automatically using RFID (radio frequency identification.) 

Staff member Gwen feeds a book into the Library’s
automated book return to test the material handling system.

Staff members Haley and Tim behind the scenes in the Circulation
area test the sorting process on the automated material handling system.

In preparation for services in the new library, staff has planned new ways for you to have access to our rich and diverse collections. So while you may never personally turn the pages of the Book of Hours, a 15th Century tome from France, or the beautifully illustrated Rubaiyat, by Omar Khayyam, you may do so digitally by logging in to the library’s Digital Archive. From time to time, the physical book may be on display under lock and key, but you can view every single page of these treasures online. And, if you do so here at the library using our kiosks, the experience will be illuminating.

While you are checking out our new digital archive, why not take a look at the 64 photographs of the old Central Library at 820 E. Street? I happened by there last Monday. The building was serene and beautiful, perhaps as it had been in the 1950’s when first introduced. The Donal Hord bas relief on the exterior of the building really stood out.

And while you are at it, take a look at the photo of the Central Library Building at Night, 1954 and compare it to the beautifully lit dome of knowledge at the new Central Library. One has been a shining beacon of knowledge for many years in the past, the other will be for many years to come. Check back soon for more details about the new Central Library September 28 celebration and sneak peek before we open with full services on Monday, September 30.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Time is Near – an Ending at the Old Central Library

Less than one week and the history of the San Diego Public Library will change forever. Less than one week left to visit and use the old Central Library at 820 E Street.
Central Library (1954-2013)
This building holds so many memories for community members, like me. I have seen changes in the Central Library. When I used this library to study many years ago as a high school student, there were tables and chairs where the Literature shelves are located now. Recently, I was thrilled to discover that some of the those chairs, perhaps now as old as 50 years, will have a new look and a new life in the new Central Library.

Some of the green back chairs from old
Central Library were  refurbished and will be
 used in the new Central Library.  
If you have time, come by the Library on Friday around 1 p.m. on Friday, June 7. We would love to hear your stories about the Central Library. (See more detail about our celebration.)

Sunday, June 9 will be the last day of service at the 820 E Street location for the Central Library. (See more detail about the closure.) Then we close the doors for library services here for good as we prepare for the next chapter of San Diego Public Library’s history.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Library Writes Its Next Chapter

Have you seen the Library’s new logo? It’s beautiful, colorful and symbolic of the new chapter we are writing in the history of San Diego Public Library (SDPL). The launch of the Library’s new logo, timed as part of our celebration of National Library Week, helps bring attention to our library system, staff and volunteers as literacy leaders, cultural conveners and community connectors. SDPL is the place where the creation of information and its dissemination come full circle. (See more information about the new logo and the Library’s new identity.)

At SDPL we are challenging ourselves to be the best, and that is possible thanks to community support and the amazing volunteers who help us every day. The Library’s 3,100 volunteers, Friends of the Library, and Library Foundation members, contributed 150,000 hours last year at an estimated value of over $3.2 million. Our volunteers help us raise funds through large donations and bequests; they reuse and recycle books, and make money while doing so through their book sales. Volunteers provide funding for furniture, equipment and interesting programs. And, they help develop and deliver these programs. Our volunteers do so much to help us carry out our mission to help people learn to read, to promote literacy and provide the all-important connections to information and to our communities.
We were so proud and honored when one of the Library’s volunteers, Dr.Ron Baza, was awarded Volunteer of theYear at the San Diego Union Tribune’s Latino Champions Awards event recently. Dr. Ron is one example of the tremendous work and contribution that our volunteers make to the Library. There are many others, and we are grateful for the community connections and help that all of our volunteers give so freely.

Photo of Latino Champions

(Left to right) Supervising Librarian Sheila Burnett,
Library Director Deborah Barrow,
Jacqueline Ayala
(Ron Baza’s wife), Ron Baza, and Eileen Labrador,
Branch Manager for the Logan Heights Branch Library.

We are also celebrating National Library Workers Appreciation Day tomorrow. Libraries are known to have lots of smart people around. At SDPL our staff is awesome! They are indeed intelligent, which is matched by their dedication and their pride in the public services that we offer.  These qualities of our library staff have seen us through some tough times, and will carry us into a bright future as we write the next chapter of the San Diego Public Library system, together.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Libraries Share

Recently I had a chance to attend a community meeting in Escondido to discuss success in securing funding and building new libraries. My colleagues and I shared stories about our local challenges and successes. We shared success stories about the kids in our respective communities. It made me proud to be in a profession where we can help kids share their newly found love for reading. It is uplifting to know how excited they are about building on their reading skills.

During that meeting, the community in Escondido shared their excitement and enthusiasm about our new Central Library. They understand that libraries share and our success is their success, since the positive results have a ripple effect felt throughout our communities.

I was reminded that we share and help by freely giving details to one another, so no one has to “reinvent the wheel.”  We even share staff!  Well, not quite.  But, it was fun seeing a former branch manager, Stacey von Winckelmann, who has moved on serving as Digital Services Librarian at Ashford University.

We share great stories to promote libraries and reading. (See our What’s Your Story? page for just a sampling of stories for how the San Diego Public Library changes lives.)  Speaking of great stories, one of the Library Commissioners, Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan, told me that everyone in her family reads, including her dog Buddy!
Buddy the Reading Dog
Libraries have discovered that children LOVE reading to pets. That’s why our Sit Up and Read Program is so successful.

Erin Gillum reads to dog Bitsy with
sister Sidney and brother Garrett
One of the truly gratifying experiences of libraries sharing occurred last week! Close to 130 librarians from Baja California and Southern California were here March 8th and 9th at the Logan Heights Branch Library to participate in Serra Cooperative Library System’s Seguimos Creando Enlaces Conference designed for library leaders throughout the region to share ideas and best practices and focus on forging long-term relationships. This binational collaboration is helping us all build on one another’s strengths and better serve all of our communities at a regional level. Now that’s what sharing is all about!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 is an Exciting Year of Change

We’re only a few days into the new year and it is already a whirlwind of activity in preparation for the exciting changes underway in 2013 at the Library. We are continuing to ramp up hiring to rebuild staffing and hours at Branch Libraries. The long-awaited new Central Library is also just a few months away from opening in July 2013. The current Central Library staff is busily getting ready.

One huge project that is underway is preparing our materials for the new automated material handling system. This new system allows library users to drop the book in a slot and the item will be carried on a conveyor belt. Then the system checks-in the item and automatically sorts it into a bin for the correct floor in the new library or to a bin for branch libraries. This will significantly streamline processing and free staff, so they can provide more direct service to the public.

Library Aide Gwendolyn Bell Prepares
Books for New Material Handling System
Our plan is for a library mover to move the 1.5 million items we have in our collection to the new library. In addition to a traditional library move that requires moving very heavy books and other materials on the public access floors, the mover will be tasked with organizing and moving items from our two basement levels. In the new library the basement materials will be interfiled into the shelves with the other materials (like shuffling giant decks of cards), so that all of our materials can be easily accessed and browsed by library users.

I’m happy to say that the new Central Library construction is almost 80% complete! Final touches on all floors are underway. Carpet is going in now and shelving and furniture are not far behind. The auditorium construction is underway with the outside walls already going up. Check out our real time webcam to see the progress for yourself.

There is much more behind the scenes work being done to prepare for the new Central move. We are also working on some exciting projects that will impact the future of our branches and the library system as a whole. I know we will look back at the end of 2013 and be amazed at just how much progress was made that directly touches the lives of the people we serve.

P.S. There is also still time for you to participate in the Buy-A-Brick campaign to leave a lasting impact on the new Central Library and on the Library system. Make your brick contribution by January 31 to ensure your brick is installed by the Library’s opening in July 2013. Call the Library Foundation at 619-238-6638 for information or additional naming opportunities.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Appreciating Community Connections

Last weekend I attended two community events that reminded me of how important the library is to our neighborhoods and how fortunate we are to have such deep roots throughout the San Diego community.

Saturday, December 8 was the 70th Anniversary of the Linda Vista Branch Library and the 25th anniversary of the current building. What a celebration it was with two such important milestones at the same time! Our newly elected Mayor, Bob Filner was there as was Scott Sherman, Council District 7’s newly elected Councilmember. County Supervisor Ron Roberts attended and so did members of our ever faithful Friends of the Linda Vista Library. Also there were members of the Vietnamese Federation, past branch managers, and library patrons, some of whom grew up in the neighborhood and now take their children or grandchildren there.

Mayor Bob Filner presents a proclamation to Branch Manager
Jeff Davis declaring December 8 as
"Linda Vista Branch Library Day" in the City of San Diego

On Sunday, December 9 I attended the Grand Opening celebration of EcoVerse, Jing Si Bookstore and CafĂ© in downtown’s East Village across from the new San Diego Central Library. EcoVerse Jing Si is an environmentally conscious community center affiliated with the Tzu Chi Foundation. The Library is already collaborating with EcoVerse on community events, including upcoming Chinese classes. Even though the grand opening of the new Central Library won’t be until next July, we are already developing a great bond between our two organizations as community partners.

As I listened to people at both events express their heart-felt connection to one another and to the library, it made me proud to be part of the San Diego Public Library and the wonderful staff who help build the community connections. Our mission of “inspiring lifelong learning through connections to knowledge and each other” really hit home. It is not just a noble goal. It is integrated into who we are and what we do in our effort to positively touch the lives of those we serve in our diverse community.

With these thoughts of our close connections and the many good things I hope to come in our future together, I would like to wish our community members, City and Library staff very Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The New Central Library Brick Campaign Begins

We are so fortunate! Our branch libraries are humming with activity and excitement as we continue to restore hours. Downtown library users express their thanks for the return of Saturday hours, and on December 3, branch libraries will be open starting from 9:30 a.m. The Library system will have more open hours than we have had in a number of years, an upward trend that we hope to see continue.

The new Central Library continues its progress toward completion. We are fortunate to have the Library Foundation, a strong group of people who have helped the construction of the new Central Library come to reality, and who continue their fundraising efforts on behalf of the Library system. The Library Foundation has begun the “Buy-a-Brickcampaign. This community campaign will allow participation at all levels for anyone to help our library system by purchasing a brick that will be engraved and placed in the new Central Library.

Please join me and “Buy-a-Brick” to publically demonstrate your support of our library system. When you “Buy-a-Brick,” your family or organization will own a lasting piece of a community treasure and improve a citywide system providing important reading and literacy programs, arts and cultural offerings and technology access for everyone.

A limited number of commemorative bricks are now available. Purchasing a brick by January 31, 2013 ensures its installation by the July grand opening. You can also “Gift a Brick” in honor or tribute to a loved one or associate. Please visit for more information or to make your online contribution.

We thank you, and wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all.