Looking for another great way to inspire your little ones to get reading? How about a visit to the Central Library (opened September 2013)? One of the first things you’ll notice when you visit the Central Library (located at 330 Park Blvd. in downtown San Diego) is the stunning architecture, including the gleaming, three-story dome that tops off the building. The dome is 143 feet wide—larger than the domes at the Pantheon, Taj Mahal, and the U.S. Capitol. Designed to be a cultural hub, the nine-story building contains a state-of-the-art auditorium that seats 350, a garden courtyard featuring an outdoor café, special events rooms, penthouse Reading Room, an on-site charter high school and much more.
Charlie Goldberg of the San Diego Library Foundation says, “Some of the building’s most intriguing design features, including the iconic dome and the three-story glass-enclosed Reading Room the dome surrounds, were elements San Diegans said they wanted in a series of public forums. The building’s architecture supports the Library’s mission of encouraging lifelong learning and exploration.”
The Central Library cost 185 million dollars to build, and many of the latest green technologies were incorporated into the design. Some of the green features include photovoltaic cells, SMART energy meters to monitor the lights and nine charging stations for electric vehicles.
Goldberg says, “With many energy-saving features, the City will be seeking LEED Silver certification for the Library.”
Exciting Learning Opportunities
The Central Library offers a plethora of learning opportunities for kids and teens. The hot spot for kids is the Children’s Library, located on the first floor.
Marina Claudio-Perez, San Diego Public Library’s Youth Services Coordinator, says, “We’re calling it Children’s Library because it will seem like a library within a library.”
Children’s Library is tailor-made for kids 0-11. There are two areas, one for 0-5 year-olds and the other for 6-11-year olds.
Claudio-Perez says the 0-5-year-old section will “have a storytime area and early literacy stations which have 10 computers full of games for the early learners.” The 6-11-year-old area has 25 desktop computers and plenty of desk space for doing homework.
The colorful characters of Dr. Seuss decorate the walls of the Children’s Library and inspire young readers.
“Everybody loves Dr. Seuss,” says Claudio-Perez. “We’re very proud of being allowed to use that as our theme. We all know Dr. Seuss considered himself a San Diegan. He lived in La Jolla and was really active in the community. His books also happen to be the highest circulating children’s books for San Diego Public Library.” In addition to six Dr. Seuss murals, there will be a special spot for Dr. Seuss books. The color scheme is based on Dr. Seuss’ “Oh! The Places You’ll Go.”
Claudio-Perez says, “We’ve asked the community what they want out of their library and we’ve designed the area accordingly.”
Some of the features geared towards making mom’s life easier include a nursing room, stroller parking and a boys and girls bathroom inside the Children’s Library. There will also be plenty of activities to keep the kids busy.
“We’re planning on doing more storytime in this library than we have been in the previous building. And, we also want to focus a lot on the early literacy ages—so we want to do toddler storytime and preschool storytime,” says Claudio-Perez. Also, be on the lookout for baby sign language, baby yoga and a kid-friendly musician. There will also be visits from famous authors and special programs to support elementary-age curriculum. “For Native American month, we’ll have Native American dancers,” she says.
The place to be for teens is on the second floor in the Teen Center, exclusively for kids ages 12-18. Anyone can come in and check out materials, but only teens are invited to stay and hang out.
“We had a high school class do the initial planning for us, and they came up with a beach theme,” says Claudio-Perez. “It’s almost like you’re lounging at the beach, but we have bean bags all over. Then we have a Tiki bar—it’s actually a snack bar … and our reference desk looks like a beach shack.”
Of course, a Teen Center wouldn’t be complete without lots of technology! There is a game room where kids can borrow games to use within the library or play on two 60-inch screens, and mobile devices galore—iPads, iPad minis, Kindles, and more—can be checked out and used within the library.
Expanded Book Collections
The library will have fun and creative spaces with lots of technology, but what about the books? With more than 71,965 volumes, you can find just about anything you’re looking for in the Children’s Library—from current favorites to classic tales. More than 8,000 of the volumes are part of the Isabel Schon International Center for Spanish Books for Youth. The Children’s Library also houses the Parent-Teacher Collection. If you’re interested in the history of children’s literature, Claudio-Perez says that the Children’s Library has “a research level collection for children’s literature, including the history of children’s literature and historical collections.”
At the old Central Library, only about 25 percent of the collection was accessible to the public. Three-quarters of it was housed in the basement; if you wanted a book you had to request it.
According to Claudio-Perez, “Having more space accessible to the public allows us to actually put out the materials … the public can see and touch more materials without requesting them. We’re also adding more popular materials, it’s what’s current, what’s hip, what’s the latest published … the best sellers. In the past we were limited to the space available.”
Visit the library website to find event listings, programs, open hours and more: www.sandiego.gov/public-library.
e3 Civic High — A School for the Future
The sixth and seventh floors of the Central Library will be home to the e3 Civic High charter school. This year, the school will be open to 250 ninth- and tenth-grade students. In the future, e3 Civic High will serve up to 500 high school students. It’s location in the Central Library building offers a unique learning opportunity for e3 students who will have access to the library facilities such as the computer lab, Teen Center and library auditorium. Students will enter the school through a separate entrance with elevators to the sixth and seventh floors. You can learn more about e3 Civic High at www.e3civichigh.com.
Discover the Differences Between the Old Central Library and the New Central Library
|Old Central Library||New Central Library|
|Library Space||144,524 square feet||366,673 square feet|
|Parking||None||250 spaces (plus 250 across the street)|
|Public Computers||84||400 computing devices|
|Children's Library||3,200 square feet||9,141 square feet|
|Teen Center||1,240 square feet||3,797 square feet|
|Homework Center||None||926 square feet|
(Taken from the Central Library Fact Sheet)
Jessica Baldis is a San Diego freelance writer who loves spending time at the library with her three sons.
Updated: January 2014