Exterior of new library located at 330 Park Blvd. in downtown San Diego.Photo credit: Juan Carlos Siezar.
Exterior of new library located at 330 Park Blvd. in downtown San Diego.Photo credit: Juan Carlos Siezar.

New Central Library Finally Opens

After three-and-a-half decades of planning, the new nine-floor Central Library is now open. Located within a mile of City College at 330 Park Blvd. in downtown San Diego along the new Park-to-Bay promenade, with the intent of being a place of inspiration and learning. While one of its main goals is in adhering to a commitment to literacy, it will offer much more than the former Central Library ever did.

The list of features are extensive: a career center, art, music and recreation collections, a rare-book collection and a sculpture garden. It offers numerous computer labs, free Wi-Fi, a training center, a children’s library and a teen center.

Additional features include an art gallery, reading rooms, a baseball research center, an auditorium, meeting and study rooms, a homework center that caters to K-12 grades, special event spaces, a garden courtyard, a conference center and an outdoor café.

Much like opening day at Petco Park, and in San Diego style, the grand opening celebration and dedication offered fun, festivities, food and entertainment. The San Diego Children’s Choir performed, along with the Navy Band which provided ceremonial music. There was also the Fancy Nancy parade, a family-friendly street festival with musical performances by Hullabaloo, The Heroes, The Paul Cannon Band, and Clint Perry and the Boo Hoo Crew. Hundreds of adults and children lined up for a sneak-peek of the ground flor, the auditorium and the courtyard.

When entering the new library, visitors will find a gigantic concrete archway that leads to the entrance, providing a symbolic ‘gateway’ to learning. Enormous in stature, the archway is a reminder of the landmark arches of Cabrillo Bridge, according to the San Diego Public Library.

The massive building has double the square footage (290,000 square feet) compared with the old facility (145,000 square feet).

“Big,” City College student Marci Luna said in describing what she thought of the new Central Library, “I spent three hours and only got to the second floor. It has more books and easier access to media.”

However, some students have yet to pay a visit to the new library. A student attending San Diego Continuing Education’s Centre City Campus who asked to be anonymous said, “Seems very exciting and big,” adding that he, “would go on YouTube,” if he were to go in it.

The iconic latticework dome that adorns the top stands out in San Diego’s redeveloped East Village, measuring 143 feet in diameter according to the San Diego Public Library. The dome — built from a network of eight steel ribs and eight steel-mesh sails held together by pipe grids and cable — is larger than the dome of the U.S. Capitol, which has a diameter of 135 feet. The view of San Diego’s skyline with the new library looks like the castle from “The Wizard of Oz,” with an architectural design far-reaching into the future. At night, the dome is set aglow and the shades on it sing in the wind.

Additionally, a new charter high school, known as e³ Civic High, occupies the sixth and seventh floors at this time. “Next year, we will have 11th and 12th grade students here,” said Hennrique Rodarte, a 10th grade student at e³ Civic High. The students have their own access to the library but the library does not have access to the school. “It’s pretty fun, easy access to books, just down the stairs,” Hennrique said, adding that the school he attended formerly was in Mexico and “it didn’t have as many books.”

The Central Library is home to more than 500,000 books and delivery is free-of-charge to any branch when requested with a valid library card. According to Marion Moss Hubbard, Senior Public Information Officer for the San Diego Public Library, “About two-thirds of our collection was in the basement before and we have many, many resources here.”

The Central Library offers much more than books. “Specifically, the Central Library is a regional repository for government documents. We have all kinds of information from federal government, state government, local governments here that are on file that are not available anywhere else in the region,” Hubbard said.

The ninth floor of the library hosts a spectacular view of San Diego, the harbor, East Village, and Petco Park and is home to a new art gallery. The art gallery displays rotating art and was still in search of a curator at the time it opened. Amazing views from the Sky View Terrace come with renting the Special Events Center, for events such as a college graduation reception. Catering is welcome on the ninth floor, and is equipped with a kitchen and a separate freight elevator.

Finally, the California Room will be helpful to anyone tracing their genealogical lines in San Diego or the State of California. The use of Ancestry.com is free when using the California Room. “We combined our resources with the San Diego Genealogical Society,” adding that if someone is doing research, “we have genealogical resources here that are not available anywhere else,” said Hubbard.

With 30-plus years in the making, this long overdue library has secured a permanent mark in the heart of East Village and in local history for generations to come.

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New Central Library Finally Opens