Between the Lines: One Book, One San Diego, One Big Library

| October 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

Let’s put aside local politics (briefly, anyway), and celebrate some upbeat occasions, like the grand opening of the new Central Library and the kickoff of this year’s One Book, One San Diego.

The Central Library had its dedication and opening events during the last weekend of September and is now open for business. Under that gorgeous dome that already has become the focal point of downtown are a public reading room, bay view terraces, roof gardens, and, of course, books and resources. With double the square footage of the former site, the Central Library’s shelves hold with many of the system’s 3.8 million books, e-books and audio-visual materials. It will house more than 400 computers, compared to 84 at the old site.

The highlight of the launch weekend was the appearance of acclaimed author Geraldine Brooks to read from and discuss “Caleb’s Crossing,” the seventh annual One Book, One San Diego selection. Over the coming year, the novel will be read and discussed by thousands of San Diegans at public events and in schools and book clubs throughout the county.

Brooks is a master of historical fiction with several earlier novels, including “March,” a Civil War story that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006. “Caleb’s Crossing,” published in 2011, is a fictional story drawn from the lives of the first English settlers in Martha’s Vineyard in the 17th century and the Wampanoag Indians who were the island’s native inhabitants. The Caleb of the title becomes the first Native American graduate of Harvard.

The Central Library is loading its calendar with programs and activities, many of which will be held in the new state-of-the-art auditorium. The “One Book, One San Diego” event is the first of its author talks, which continues on October 9 with Glynis Ridley, author of “The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe.” The San Diego Great Books Group, which has been meeting since 1980, will resume its monthly gatherings at the new library on October 13 with a discussion of “Jane Eyre.”

Books are just part of the multi-cultural attractions. Friday Talking Pictures, a film series, will begin with Native American Films in Hollywood as part of the One Book, One San Diego events. A free Sunday afternoon concert series will feature chamber music and choral groups, including the Camarada Trio, Master Chorale, and others. An art gallery and sculpture garden will have rotating exhibitions. And let’s not forget parking, which was non-existent before.

A state-of-the-art central hub is critical to the success of the whole public library system, providing resources, collections, expertise and reference support. Our 35 city branches entertain more than 5.6 million visitors a year, exceeding the combined attendance at Padres and Chargers home games.

So what’s next? Now that we finally have our shiny new Central Library, maybe we can look forward to a groundbreaking for the new Mission Hills/Hillcrest branch!

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