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Inside the new Central Library

It’s not just a library, folks. It’s a community hangout!


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Photo: Steve Simpson

A lot of people see the word “library” and think of an outdated, smelly room with dusty paper volumes. But the new Central Library at 330 Park Boulevard (near Petco Park) is a spectacular, high-tech, art-filled community hang-out.

Seriously, it does not feel like a “library.”

On a recent tour of the building, it felt a little bit like being on a big UC campus. The lobby is large, bustling, and industrial. There’s an outdoor café and an auditorium you can rent out. There are spiffy new computers everywhere. There’s even a supercute gift shop (Psst: It’s a great place to get San Diego-themed hostess or holiday gifts).

The children’s area is a dream for parents—large touch screens, tons of computers, special rocking chairs that help kids focus, and a neat-o book drop with a conveyor belt that runs right through the kids’ section.   

The book drop is that vertical tunnel that looks like it's going to suck up that lady; it feeds up to the conveyor belt (dark line parralel-ish to the top of the photo).

All kinds of things delight—from the blue chairs in the reading room under the sun-protective dome and the IDEA Lab with a 3-D printer (not open just yet) to the baseball research center with the largest archive west of Cooperstown, New York. And the views of the city and the bay—it’s a city treasure.

Go today and check out the New Central Library. Walk if you’re nearby or drive and park for free in the basement. You will feel the “pride in your community” that the library’s architect Rob Quigley aimed for, back when we interviewed him in 2011.

Related: How To Move a Library in 38 Days

And stay tuned for our December 2013 issue. Robert L. Pincus will be critiquing the public art in the new Central Library.

A Lego model of the Central Library (not part of the public art). Wouldn't you have just died when you were a kid?

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