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After 30 Years, San Diego Central Library Now Open To The Public
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September 30, 2013 1:42 p.m.
Mel Katz, Chair, SD Public Library Foundation
Rob Quigley, Architect, SD Central Library Design
Deborah Barrow, SD Public Library Director
Marcellus Turner, Seattle Librarian, oversees Seattle's Public Central Library
Dana Springs, SD Commission for Arts and Culture
Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning author, and 2013 One Book Selection, “Caleb’s Crossing"
Kimberly Bond, CEO Mental Health Systems, Outreach for Homeless at SD Central Library
Helen Griffith, Ph.D., Executive Director, e3 Civic High
Todd Gloria, Interim Mayor, City of San Diego
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are broadcasting live from San Diego's new central library on its grand opening day. This is KPBS Midday Edition. The new downtown central library has been an idea in the making for the past 30 years. Now it is time for supporters to celebrate its opening and for guests to take a tour of the nine story high tech open domed library downtown on Park Boulevard. Today we will talk with some of the people who made the new library possible. We'll meet the people who will run it and learn about the artwork that makes it unique and we will discuss the hopes for this new structure. Will it become a tourist attraction? Will it help revitalize East Village? Will it redefine what we think of as a library? I am Maureen Cavanaugh. KPBS Midday Edition is the next. First the news. The new downtown library is up and running for its first working day and we are here with hundreds of San Diegans discovering what is inside this amazing building. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. It is Monday, September 30 and welcome to a special broadcast of KPBS Midday Edition. We've set up our broadcast today inside the grand lobby of the new San Diego central library. The weekend was filled with inaugural ceremonies for the new library but this is its first working day. For stay open for business and the San Diego's have been filing in to see and experience this new downtown landmark and maybe even check out a book. Joining me to give us an audio tour of the central library our first guests, chair of the city public library foundation Malcolm today show
MEL KATZ: Good morning, thank you.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Rob Quigley is the architect of the new library. Rob it's good to see you.
ROB QUIGLEY: Thank you very much.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: First of all congratulations. Mel, we spoke to you many times when the library was still just an idea. Does the finished result live up to your expectations?
MEL KATZ: It exceeds my expectations. It is so fantastic and today to see people here to my right at the checkout counters there have been probably 50 people in each line all morning checking out books and you go around and you talk to people. I took the trolley here today. I can't believe what it looks like. I am upstairs. I can't believe this place.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: As this hour goes by we will be speaking more about what is inside the library, but just to start us off, give us a brief rundown of some of the highlights for people who have not been here yet. First of all, there is an auditorium for public events. There is a high school. Give us an idea of what the nine story structure contains.
MEL KATZ: You walk it off 11 straight into an amazing courtyard and to your right is a stand-alone auditorium, 350 seats. Yesterday we had a to 30 concert, it exceeded the seats in the auditorium. They were sitting in the courtyard which is how it was designed. The doors completely opened it to the auditorium, doors completely open to the lobby and you come inside and you, and look at this amazing three-story lobby, then if you go up and you keep walking between 10,000 ft.² children's section that is filled with Dr. Seuss murals and Dr. Seuss material. Go up to the second floor a teen center, go to the fourth floor, a computer lab and computer training center. Go to the eighth floor, but it doesn't three-story reading room and something called the idea lab where we have a 3-D printer, we have CAD machines, and you can put the drawing in there and we can come out with an object and then you go to the night before we have three did two verses, the special events retrench as the darling sweet and unbelievably views and I'm thrilled because the architect of this building is here with me today but he designed the eighth and ninth floors as the people's penthouse and that's what this building is. This building is the people's building.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now you know we are sitting in this grand lobby and as you said, Mel, three stories high. I'm going to ask you both but let me start with you first Mel, what is the first impression you think people get of the library?
MEL KATZ: I think the first thing they get is well San Diego finally has what it deserves, a big-city library. When you come into this library you have visions of what is in Chicago and what is in New York and finally San Diego has, the people have what they deserve which is a big-city library.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Rob, what did you want them experiencing when they first come into this lobby, to this library?
ROB QUIGLEY: I think I am seeing it on their faces as we speak. It is this wonderful sense of joy and pride. What I've noticed, the emotion that I have noticed overwhelmingly is one of pride. And it is heartfelt and it is a pride that comes when an entire community works together over decades to accomplish something that a lot of people said was impossible.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A lot of people have been reading, Mel, about the bricks where donors names are inscribed. How many bricks with donors' names do you expect to end up with?
MEL KATZ: Right now we have over 3000 bricks. We think we will end up with over 10,000 bricks. 3000 San Diegans came forward and we raised over $750,000 just from the bricks. When you look at this building it's 100% paid for right now. So, an amazing public/private partnership, we had 80 million from what was the redevelopment agency, 20 million from the state bond measure for libraries, 20 million from the school district and we raised over $65 million and that finished off the project. And that does not count another 10 million in operating dollars. So, no money from the city's general fund will go toward building this building, or towards operating this building. And what that means is this library is here today at no expense to police, fire, parks and rec or any of our other libraries.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You know Rob, this is obviously designed, this building as a landmark building for San Diego. What elements artistically from San Diego did you want to incorporate?
ROB QUIGLEY: If you remember 17 years ago we started the project we held a series of workshops on the Midway and literally hundreds of San Diegans attended. This was before I had gone online or created a sketch. We simply asked them about the value system and about what they really wanted and expected in the library. One of the items that they were very concerned about was that it be iconic. They wanted something, not a background building. They wanted something that they could be proud of, that held its own in the skyline. And we asked them for examples of things that they thought were good about San Diego and they overwhelmingly pointed to Balboa Park. So a lot of the what you see here is not copy of what you see in Balboa Park but a reinterpretation of our time and our century and applied in a utilitarian way to this particular project.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You're talking about the arches, the dome?
ROB QUIGLEY: The two-story arch out here on Park Boulevard for instance, the arch in the lobby, most obviously they dome, you see the lattice in the dome is from the botanical garden building in Balboa Park the idea of the dome, the California building. And things more subtle than that, even the way the building is organized is what architects call a biaxial cross. You either go east, west, north, south on the axes. Exactly the way that Balboa Park is organized.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see. Let me ask you about the dome, it was making a rather loud noise on windy days. Did you ever find out what was causing that?
ROB QUIGLEY: We knew right from the beginning unless you do a solid dome, which wasn't what we wanted, because we wanted a dome that was always changing and in the sunlight that every time you drove past it or looked at it from afar it would look different and fresh. So you cannot have a solid surface and do that. Once you have a perforated surface, then you know it's going to have an acoustical personality as well as a visual personality. And we always considered that part of the richness of the experience. And most of the time there is 100% agreement on that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: 100% of the time?
ROB QUIGLEY: Not 100% of the time. If there's a really strong storm or incredibly blistering day then it gets pretty loud but most of the time in the afternoons it is a soft singing sound that most people find actually quite pleasant. Now the backup system always was if it was a problem that we would have an artist do an acoustical overlay on this sound and we are testing different things. That may be something we do if it is in fact a problem.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I do want to ask you to about the concept of the people's penthouse. I think that really impresses people when they go up to the reading room on the eighth floor and they see these fabulous views of San Diego and you kind of realize that unless you are in a private building you do not see that anywhere else.
ROB QUIGLEY: This also came from the series of workshops this idea came from the public from the cities of San Diego, not the architects. They said to us you know we cannot really afford to have dinner at the top of the Hilton, we cannot afford to rent the penthouse at the top of the condo high-rise and this is our chance, this building is our chance to have all those amenities. And, why don't you work at that. So we took half of the amenities that the library was scheduled to have him put them up on the top two levels.
MEL KATZ: Rob Quigley who is sitting next to me here has done such an amazing job on this library and really had in mind the people when he planned it. And he got chosen in an international competition 17 years ago. No one else would have stayed with this project. And when you take a look at this when he first started planning it, every study carrel had to be separately wired. Today, the entire building is wireless, high-speed Internet. Which means yes, people can afford computers, they are $200 apiece. People cannot afford high-speed Internet. They come into this library, they can use our computers, our tablets, over 400 of them, or they bring in their own and they can use it from the library, every floor, from the courtyard, from the auditorium. All things that got better over the last 17 years so there is a silver lining in waiting for things.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I wanted to ask you to one of the big words and building things now is sustainability. What is incorporated in this building that makes it a sustainable, even a green building?
ROB QUIGLEY: Actually sustainability is the quality that changed the most over the years. When we started on this building it was not at the top of the list for the city of San Diego in terms of their values. Now if we started today it would be at the very top of the list but there are a number of things we were able to do because we've been designing sustainable buildings since the 70s. One of the principal ones is building out of concrete instead of out of steel and drywall. like say the new justice center or other buildings are done that way and the concrete acts as a durable sponge that helps absorb the heat and the coolness and makes the building much more efficient that way. You can see the natural light all around us. Carefully shaded the windows, you will see the louvered screens around the building. That is to make sure there is not too much heat going through those windows into the building.
MEL KATZ: And we are very excited because we are almost certain that this building will be Leed Silver building.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You mentioned, Mel this is now 100% paid for. What about maintenance costs? What about what it is going to take to keep the building up?
MEL KATZ: This building is over double the size of our old building and we feel that it's going to cost read around $2.7 million more per year to rent this building. And two families, the Jacobs and the Kirby family both came forward came forward with $1 million a year for the next five years, so that is 2 million and the other 700,000 will be taken care of by leasing different spaces of the building. The café, the amazing library shop we have. So for the next five years we will not have to pay anything extra to rent this building versus how much we were running the older building.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to ask you to about the new name that was dedicated I think this weekend San Diego Central Library at Joan and Irwin Jacobs common. What does the name mean and what does it signify?
MEL KATZ: Irwin and Joan came up with the name and they didn't want to this to be the Jacobs library. They wanted it to stay being the San Diego central library and the @, Joan, and the inverted V for and Irwin Jacobs, and they are from New England and the love the idea of the common being the meeting place, the gathering place and at the place everyone will come together for concerts, for lectures and just to exchange thoughts and that is what the common is all about and that it is what is going to be here.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And that leads me to my last question to you, Rob, and that is after people have got their first look, their first experience of the library what you think will keep them coming back?
ROB QUIGLEY: Well the resources, just as Mel has outlined, the resources here are just phenomenal. I live in the neighborhood, I came over Sunday to go to the concert and it was just a wonderful afternoon outing for us. So I think the rich programming, the fact that there are resources here that you cannot find anywhere else will keep people coming back. There is a wonderful show caps in the artillery for instance that you cannot find anywhere else in San Diego.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So it is a constant utilization of this building in different ways.
MEL KATZ: And people are going to realize that it is so much more than just a building with shelves and books. Really it is a living place and when people are coming in who have, and as we said in the very beginning on the trolley looking around on the building they are already talking we are coming back tomorrow, we are coming back Wednesday.
ROB QUIGLEY: We've already had one wedding take place.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Really?
ROB QUIGLEY: One wedding has already taken place in the wedding and as you probably know that ultimate yardstick for gauging architectural success.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly. I've been speaking with Rob Quigley, architect of the new San Diego central library and Mel Katz of the San Diego Library foundation. Thank you both.
BOTH: Thank you, Maureen
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Stay with us as we continue to live broadcast from the lobby of the downtown library. Coming up we will hear more about what is inside this amazing structure and talk about what a landmark library can do for city. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. We continue our live broadcasts from the lobby of the new San Diego central library. Now, ever since the library is open for business and this is the first day of business people have been streaming in. It's been sort of a relentless group of people coming in, getting library cards, checking out books, holding these brochure maps of where to go and what to see. It is very large and very beautiful building. And there is no doubt that this new structure makes an impact on a visual level but what is inside? How can San Diegans use this new library? Joining me is Deborah Barrow. She's director of the public library. Deborah, welcome.
DEBORAH BARROWS: Thank you very much.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There's been so much written about the high-tech facets of the new downtown library. I think we should make it clear there are still books here.
DEBORAH BARROWS: There are 1 million books so yes we are a traditional library and we've moved into the digital age as well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In a traditional library there are still racks of books and the still the Dewey decimal system that can find things in that way.
DEBORAH BARROWS: They certainly can and they can sit in a corner quietly and read also.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How else can people access the books?
DEBORAH BARROWS: The library is online so if they want to stay home I can't imagine anybody doing that, but they can do it that way. They can also come to the library and use the computers here. We have 300 computers available free of charge for people to use. In addition to that we have iPads and tablets and e-books and e-readers so you can download if you've got your own device or you can borrow one of ours.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: People listening might notice the fact that it is sort of louder in this library that they might expect in a traditional library right here in the lobby so where are the quiet places for people to go and experience the library quiet?
DEBORAH BARROWS: You know, we planned this library to be busy and noisy on the first and second floor where people are engaged in activities. Then they move forward or rather upward to the third floor, fourth floor, fifth floor, gets even quieter on the eighth floor. That is the reading room with a beautiful three-story ceiling and found art, beautiful art installation and wonderful chairs and places to sit so that is the criteria.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There are special sections we went over this a little bit with Mel but I think it's important for people to know there are special sections for children just like you would find in a regular library, but this is sort of an expanded children's section tell us what is in there.
DEBORAH BARROWS: It was wonderful to have the children's library, the Denny Sanford children's library is about 10,000 ft.² so it is as large as some of our libraries throughout the communities and we have traditional books are, we have staff for fabulous storytimes and we also have technology for children, special items the children can use to learn, develop their vocabulary, have fun as well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There are also special sections for teens and for disabled people as well.
DEBORAH BARROWS: That's right. We are very proud of our polling foster teen center because this was a place that is designed for students by students and it's got a beach themed collaborative for students to meet and relax together as well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I think it is one of the things that impressed me was when teens come here not only is the teen area off-limits to everybody but teens but you can also, kids of all ages can get homework mentoring and there is a multimedia learning lab here. It's almost like you could spend hours here.
DEBORAH BARROWS: That's right. We want people to come spend hours whether they are looking for a job, whether they are looking for homework help, all of these things are available and I want to announce that it is the San Diego central library and Joan and Irwin Jacobs Commons.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes. We were talking about that just a few moments ago. Now, lots of people challenged, still challenge the ideas that libraries are needed in this world of e-books, so how does this library, Debra, answer the challenge?
DEBORAH BARROWS: We have e-books and we have traditional and we have the people. Today I think is verification libraries are still used it needed and wanted us by the public as a common space.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: On the line is Marcellus Turner. He's the head librarian of the Seattle city library and Marcellus, welcome to the program.
MARCELLUS TURNER: Thank you so much. I'm happy to be here via telephone.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When San Diego was deciding whether or not to build the central library the Seattle library came up over and over again and what the Seattle library did for the city of Seattle and what a landmark opening it was. When you were building the library back in nearly 2000 did people ask the questions if libraries were needed anymore?
MARCELLUS TURNER: A couple of things. First of all my congratulations to Deborah, the city of Seattle, I'm sorry the city of San Diego, and all the board for all this great activity and the excitement I'm hearing it all the way in unfortunately rainy Seattle, today. I must admit that I was not a part of the building program when Seattle public built their library. I would imagine that they felt were actually experience some of the same questions that Deborah and her staff fielded as they were building the new structure and it just goes to show you that 10 years ago and 10 years to the day we have both libraries still serving the great need of the traditional role of libraries as well as where we are taking libraries and our citizens.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now tell us the various ways that people in Seattle use the downtown Seattle library.
MARCELLUS TURNER: Sure. There are a couple of ways and I'd be remiss if I didn't just say that the Seattle public library is a wonderful structure for people to visit, so we get. Quite a few tourists who come to regard people who come to the city and want to being relatives and friends when they are visiting, but in terms of the services that we deliver, we are still library. We are still responsible for providing the intellectual educational and educational and recreational needs and interests of our citizens. So we still provide traditional book services. We have reference assistance. We provide computer labs, we provide all those things that people have come to expect from their library. We are just offering it at a new building, or any newer building.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You may not have been there from the very beginning, but I just have to ask you this question, what is it like breaking in new architecture? Have you found some glitches that needed to be repaired. I'm just asking for the people here in San Diego as to what they might want to look for?
MARCELLUS TURNER: I will say this. I'm coming in, our 10th anniversary is actually next year and I'm coming in eight years into the building, so they have managed all of the tweaks that have come. I think the biggest challenge though will be how they transition, even in the next couple of years of the libraries will continually change and how they respond to that. I was listening to part of the promo while I was on hold and from the description it sounds like the San Diego Public Library will be prepared for anything that comes its way, new technology, new services, the way people are using it, so I think you are pretty positioned for great things to happen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And do you think the American library world is in a way celebrating this opening of the San Diego library with us?
MARCELLUS TURNER: Most certainly, most certainly. We take more pride in seeing the work of others than you might imagine. It just gives us inspiration and ideas for what we can do next. So yes, the entire world about the entire library world is smiling with Deborah.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is good to know. Deborah is very happy about that. I want to thank you so much, Marcellus Turner for spending a few moments with us.
MARCELLUS TURNER: It was my pleasure
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We return to one of the most distinctive features of the downtown library, the wealth of public art that it contains and I'd like to welcome Dana Springs with the city commission for arts and culture. Dana, welcome.
DANA SPRINGS: Thank you, Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How many separate art works are created for the library? I'm wondering how much autonomy the artists had in creating the art we see in the new library.
DANA SPRINGS: Okay well, I would like to make a distinction out of the gate here that there are four public art commissions and that is what you're asking about, the artists designing specific works just for this library. But there are also over 150 paintings, drawings and photographs on display that were collected by purchased a donation (inaudible). So, in answer to your question---
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So the space is like a Gallery as well as a library.
DANA SPRINGS: In fact it is there a lot of similarities between this library and a Museum in fact. So in response to your question about the artist's autonomy they were given a lot of autonomy. We are talking about the four artists who created the commissions (inaudible) Lipsky based in New York, (inaudible) based out of Seattle who is a new transplant to San Diego by the way I would like to think that his work at the library has something to do with that. And also Einar and Heimlich De La Torre who work both in Mexico and the United States and the fourth artist is Gary Hill based out of Seattle.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A lot has been written and said about the 3-D wall of images, the De La Torre piece in the main glass elevator. Tell us we see in that piece, Dana.
DANA SPRINGS: When library patrons come to the library and want to go from floor number 1 to 4 number two they have a choice of going into one of three elevators. Today unfortunately the central elevator isn't working but it will be working soon.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's one of the glitches that I talked about.
DANA SPRINGS: The central elevator will be all glass, transparent glass so when you approach the central elevator you will experience a lighted portal filled with colors and weird mindbending images and when you enter the elevator, then you will have this experience of going up through a narrative, visual narrative world like a time machine, or a story that is a visual story as you go up in the elevator.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One of the reasons I asked about the autonomy was because I didn't think that could be designed by a committee. That is such an original and such a unique idea. Was it a hard sell?
DANA SPRINGS: Oh no, absolutely not. One of the things I like to emphasize about public art in the world of public art is that our job, the competition and committee work happens in the selection of the artists. Then the artist is given the ability to do their best work.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I just want to tell our listeners at home it seems like the lobby here has really filled up since we started our broadcast. A lot of people milling around and getting their first look at the beautiful new structure, checking out books and so forth. So, if you heard the sound level raise a little bit just means there are more people enjoying the library. Let me get back to my guest Dana spring. There seems to be all kinds of art. Actually made for this building from an outrunning crossword into relaxing furniture. I mean, tell us a little bit about the broad spectrum of public art that is in the library.
DANA SPRINGS: And okay great. In addition to the library (inaudible) an installation by Ray Nagin and (inaudible) which is the reading room. You find 25 pieces of blue furnishings all interspersed with the other furnishings in the building and those who furnishings, chairs Ottomans tables that were selected from the streets of San Diego taken back and refurbished and pained the same color (inaudible).
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There is a wall of pages in the auditorium.
DANA SPRINGS: The wall of pages is a 10 foot tall 6 by I guess you could call it a mural. It has affixed almost 3000 books to the face of wall and they're open to the pages there's a screen of mesh on them that creates a nice, elegant pattern of the pages in the auditorium as well as it is sound absorbent.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It has an acoustic property as well.
DANA SPRINGS: Yes it does.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How many separate art works were created for the library?
DANA SPRINGS: Four commissioned projects were commissioned for the library there are 150 drawings paintings photographs that have been on in the library. So the city of San Diego owns a collection of art approximately 1000 pieces. The 150 on display here represent the largest exhibition of city-owned art work in history, in the city's art collection.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Give us the big picture Deborah what does the inclusion of this much public art, especially those pieces commissioned, what does that say for the library?
DEBORAH BARROWS: There is the human element we are able to capture in art and in addition to that we have an art gallery in the library and the exhibition there is a retrospective of some work of artists that are displayed at the Pacific Beach to the library through the leadership of Mark Elliott Lugo was the library art curator. So, (inaudible) pulled some of those together in a retrospective show it is amazingly beautiful so we fix capturing many aspects of the experience the books digitally gives more of it all together in one place for people to experience free of charge.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Was there unifying theme, Dana that you wanted to see in the works of art?
DANA SPRINGS: Not necessarily but what has clearly manifested is that there's a lot of strength in San Diego area artists work here at the library. We have 10 sculpture pieces by local area sculptor Kenneth (inaudible) as Deborah mentioned all the artwork shown on the floor nine art gallery are by San Diego area artists. We are very proud of our local artists.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I wanted to ask you Deborah, is there anything you're waiting to see how it works, it's a good idea but you're waiting to see how it works?
DEBORAH BARROWS: And I think a lot of this relates to how people use the library. We have an auditorium that is separate. We also have ninth floor space that is going to be used by the public and rentable, so the night for especially the men's room the Arline Shiley special event suite is available for people to rent and that is a new area for us in the library. And we are doing our best and we have lots of people who want to come here. We had a wedding here already, a spectacular wedding so there's going to be a lot of uses.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So you're actually booking events?
DEBORAH BARROWS: We are booking events and our book event this evening with one book one San Diego with KPBS will be another example for us.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That brings me nicely to Geraldine Brooks. I want to introduce Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks, author of the 2013 one book one San Diego selection Caleb's Crossing and Geraldine, welcome.
GERALDINE BROOKS: Thank you very much
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is an exciting time for book lovers in San Diego. Are you catching any of that enthusiasm?
GERALDINE BROOKS: Absolutely. It's absolutely thrilling to be here in this wonderful space and I'm just looking around at the diversity of the people who are in here to explore and enjoy their new library and I'm seeing a lot of people who are the colors of San Diego. I'm seeing people in wheelchairs, I'm even seeing a dog. So I didn't know this was a dog friendly space. The kids and the elderly and everything in between so I've definitely got that excitement and to be the first author to have the opportunity to read in this marvelous spaces such an honor.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is right, you're going to be the first author to read here. That is something. Now your week in San Diego talking about Caleb's Crossing coincides with of course the opening of the library, do you think that will get even more people involved in the one book one San Diego movement?
GERALDINE BROOKS: It feels like there is a tremendous amount of involvement already. So, and this is a wonderful thing for a writer to have the sense that your book is connecting with so many people. And it is a remarkable thing which with this book which is set on the other side of the country, a little bit closer to my home. I live on Martha's Vineyard.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And in a very different time than now.
GERALDINE BROOKS: Indeed, yes, it is set in the mid-17th century. And it is Caleb's crossing is inspired by the true story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. And that was in 1665.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Did you see the place where you're going to be speaking tonight?
GERALDINE BROOKS: I haven't seen it yet. I cannot wait.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Marvelous. I want to tell everybody that Geraldine Brooks will be participating in a number of different events in San Diego this week in conjunction with the one book one San Diego Book tour. So you can go to our event section at KPBS.org for more information. I have been speaking with Dana Springs, with the San Diego commission for arts and culture and with Deborah Barrow director of the San Diego Public Library and with Geraldine Brooks and I want to thank you all for joining us.
ALL: Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Coming up we will hear how the library plans to reach out to the neighborhood of the East Village with mental health and counseling services and the brand-new E3 high school. Broadcasting live from the new central library I am Maureen Cavanaugh and you are listening to KPBS Midday Edition. This is KPBS Midday Edition I am marring can Cavanaugh in what has become increasingly loud lobby of the San Diego new central library today's the first day that it's open to the public and the public is indeed taking advantage of that fact. People are looking around. They're checking out books. They are discovering the artwork that we've just been talking about, the computer simulated talking to those involved in making this library become a reality for San Diego as well as what is unique about the library compared to other cities. Now let's turn our attention to how San Diego central library meets the needs of the community. I'd like to welcome back Mel Katz, chair of the San Diego Board of Trustees and Kimberly Bond, she is CEO of the San Diego based mental health systems corporate. Kimberly, welcome.
KIMBERLY BOND: Thank you.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Mel, who are the community members in the immediate vicinity of this library who will benefit from excellent resources?
MEL KATZ: It's amazing when you look about this library and the surrounding areas 27% of the families that live around this library fall below the poverty level. When you look at a national average 16% of families fall below the poverty level. So the people that are going to be using this library need this library and they need the fact that everything is free in this library.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And break it down for us. What will they be able to access because this library is here that they wouldn't have otherwise?
MEL KATZ: One of the big things is our computers and our tablets and that we have free Internet access. So we have wireless. The entire building, the courtyard, the auditorium and high-speed Internet. And, one third of all Americans according to the gates and study use their library computers to get onto the Internet. Teenagers 14 to 18, 50% use a library computer to get on the Internet. Here it is even going to be more so. What Kim will talk about in a few minutes is we have amazing services to help people who have needs.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Another thing you are talking about so many of the events that will take place here are most of them going to be free and open to the public?
MEL KATZ: We have started with yesterday in the concert at 230 yesterday we had a concert that are old library usually get 35 to 40 people we had over 350 people, all free. Tonight one book one San Diego with Geraldine Brooks is all free. It's going to be things like this all the time. Really this literally is the people's building and everything in it is free and we have amazing librarians who are there as a resource.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, Kimberly Bond, tell me what a lot of people are concerned about San Diego's homeless and their use of this building. They have concerns about whether the new library will be overwhelmed and I'm wondering what are the protocols library will use with people here who are not just simply homeless, but who have behavioral or mental health issues.
KIMBERLY BOND: Sure, and mental health systems is really proud to partner with the library and Deborah Barrows who I know was here for the last segment was really one of the instigators. Her and I met and became up the project for San Diego libraries where we will actually have a staff person, a Masters level staff person stationed at the library to help librarians and the public with the homeless folks that come in. We cannot eliminate homeless people from using the library. They are citizens and they need access to it. So we can help teach them how to use it appropriately, T like libraries and patrons how not to be afraid and just pure resource to anyone entering the library. The staff will also be versed in using the resources, so to hook up some of the folks coming in I maybe need housing or education, location, food, we can connect that with all the resources clinic mental health and drug abuse treatment.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Will your staff be monitoring the library for potential disturbances?
KIMBERLY BOND: The library staff will always be monitoring that and we are ready to come, we can go to any section of the library we have an office on the third floor but we will be in all sections of the library.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How about if a patron of the library, somebody here is witnessing or experiencing some kind of unpleasant behavior, what would they do?
KIMBERLY BOND: First and foremost hopefully the staff would call us and we would, help the person transition the person from being less agitated, de-agitated to be be taking them out of the library and if might be we could call on outside resources but first and foremost is to talk to work at the person to find what the issues are and de-escalate them.
MEL KATZ: We have a code of conduct for everyone who uses the building so everyone is equal when they come into the building. We don't want people sleeping in the building, we don't want people using the restrooms for hygiene, but everyone is equal and everyone gets the same code of conduct.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It comes to mind a point that Kimberly, the people if they want to and they are not hurting anybody they can stay here all day, is that right?
KIMBERLY BOND: Absolutely. They can read books that use computers and all the things that everybody else is using the library for as long as they aren't disturbing or creating a nuisance just like anybody else is welcome in the library they will be too.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And yet there is a level of service they are providing for people who would perhaps like to change their lives or find another way to spend our time so to speak tell us about the services that someone cannot, that the library.
KIMBERLY BOND: Absolutely one of the keys of working with the homeless population is building a relationship and trust the people commit time and time again and they get to know the staff the relationship gets built. Even if people may not at first be seeking help or seeking other answers we will surely be a building the relationship and hopefully moving them into the other services like housing or treatment. My agency MHS does a lot of work with the homeless population both mentally ill and substance abuse. In fact the 264 housing units 85 of them are downtown San Diego so we are well-versed in helping moving people out of thousands homelessness into housing and jobs and getting into services that they need.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So someone who's a regular patron here at the library could actually find their lives changed by the services provided by the mental health services the library has in this building.
KIMBERLY BOND: Absolutely, that is our goal to end homelessness and certainly to decrease homelessness whether people are looking for the services we will be there helping them helping to change their life.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now that the library's open one of the goals is helping to provide a good atmosphere for all the patrons.
MEL KATZ: We want to be welcoming. We want people would be walking to feel like this is my building and I belong here and it is for everyone to feel that way and that is why when you talk to our librarian for anyone on the staff today they are here with big smiles, welcome. You know, the lines to check out material right now are right around 40 people in each line could be put going by getting bags to put the books in their and CDs in, they are here to provide a service and are so grateful to San Diegans for embracing this building.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And a Geraldine Brooks who was with the last segment mention the fact that as we sit in the library we see so much of the diversity of San Diego coming to this building and I think that this is part of what you want to see, too, Mel, that is part of the goal of what this library is.
MEL KATZ: As great as this building looks and it really is going to be an architectural icon in downtown San Diego, it is also about the people who use it and the services we provide and it did not come alive until today. When everyone is on every floor of the building with smiles on their face and saying how they got here by trolley or they got here by bus where they parked underneath, or all the parking across the way we are making it so easy for people to come in and see their library.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to move to a couple of special guests we have here, another unique way the central library is merging with the community is by building a school inside. It is the only school in the nation that is inside the library. It is called E3 civic high. It's a public charter school located on the six and seven for here, right in the library and I am joined by its Executive Director Dr. Ellen Griffith welcome
HELEN GRIFFITH: Hi, thank you.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And E-3 San Diego high student Max. I, Max.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now Helen, the students are enrolled breakdown
HELEN GRIFFITH: Right now we have 270 students enrolled we were targeted for 250 that the interest was so amazing that we are overfilled with 270 as a waiting list.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Besides being able to teach school in a magnificent structure what's the benefit force to attending civic I over other high schools
HELEN GRIFFITH: the benefit number one is the amazing library we are in a literary marvel most schools have a one-room library with a few resources we have seven force available to us not only to 1.5 million resources but also the librarians. They will be to teach a portion of humanities this course is the students will be able to, access all the subjects in the library the teen center, workcenter and eventually they can entered the library and create the next generation of librarians.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: so the teachers themselves will be using resources in the library and incorporate that into their teaching
HELEN GRIFFITH: Aabsolutely every student's ID card is an E-3 library card serving as a double so they have access to the library materials in the tutoring that comes online with the city of San Diego.city TV is pushing into the digital media studio and we are a unique partnership in there that we share and maximize their resources, and the building.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Max you are in ninth grade?
MAX: No, 10th grade
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: 10th grade. And why did you want to attend the school?
MAX: My mom found out from her friend and she got the information, so we attended a meeting and we found that information and I'm here now.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And, this, this one has been opened before opening day of this library, you've been going to classes. What's it like so far?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's awesome?
MAX: Because of my own school it's different. You meet people and like some people are different and you don't just talk to them just for one day. Here, you act with them like...
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You interact with them some of the time?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's an exciting kind of rundown of what the school is like so far, interacting with people you would normally interact. Is that part of what the school is about
HELEN GRIFFITHS: Yes we have students from as far north as Poway and as south as Chula Vista but predominantly they come from a 5 mile radius around the area. Very diverse group and they also get to interact with the challenges of the downtown community there looking a real word problems in the talk about them together in the learning environment is based on problem-based strategies. How can students come to the environment and look at the challenges and figure out how what can we do to the school, world, city a better place and that's part of being a civic engaged student.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us a little bit about where the school is people visiting the library might say I heard about a school where is it?
HELEN GRIFFITHS: We're in the sixth and seventh floor. We have a separate entrance at 395 11th Ave. separate from the library, separate elevator, separate story.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: People cannot just go in and out.
HELEN GRIFFITHS: Not without authorization. We have an iPhone by the door which is a camera phone you positively allow entrance into the school just as we would in any school site where security is a concern.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Max what you think about the design of the new school that you are in?
MAX: Very creative.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you enjoy it?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You enjoy it just because it's not like a typical school?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering as you get involved and you meet with fellow students and dealing with your teachers where you spend your lunchtime? Is it all incorporated in their work you come down here and look at the books?
MAX: We don't come down but we would normally be like in a group at the table and just talk and relax.
HELEN GRIFFITH: One of the unique things is that we have our own café on the seventh floor. In addition we have a demonstration kitchen where the students will ultimately cook. And its focus on health fitness and wellness.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What kind of interaction do you see the students having with the library.
HELEN GRIFFITH: Interaction is ongoing and actually last week Ms. Rojas brought all her classes down each module at the library center at the teen center working with the librarian Bob at the teen center and they're looking at teen issues; teen crime, teen suicide and of course teen violence in San Diego. As the reemerging issues and they come to the library to look for resources and materials and we meet with the community they have a police officer in the panel coming tomorrow to talk actually about what they can do and get more data as they are looking at how to solve these issues.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you so much for speaking with us about this and right now we have San Diego interim Mayor Todd Gloria on the line with us. He's a member of the San Diego delegation that is now in Washington DC but he is sparing a few moments for us as we celebrate this opening day of the San Diego central library. Todd Gloria welcome to the program.
TODD GLORIA: Thank you so much, Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now you are closing out our show today and I'm wondering if you would tell us what your hopes, what you hope to see happen with this downtown library?
TODD GLORIA: I hope that it's something San Diegans will see that as their own. That they will go, be able to go down there and explore the amazing resources that are there. There is literally something there for every member of the city. It is a triumph 30 years in the making and I want people to go down there and enjoy it we built just for them.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I can't help but ask you your there in Washington DC as we are approaching a time deadline for a partial shutdown of the government. What's it like there?
TODD GLORIA: It's pretty chaotic. We just left a meeting with Sen. Feinstein that she expressed her pessimism that this will not be avoided. Certainly the impact that has on everyone but particularly those who are least capable of handling it. You know members of Congress certainly will be paid, but the staff that runs this place will not. And it's really troublesome and difficult when you think about San Diego's perspective when you note up to 22% of our jobs are directly connected to the military spending you know we are very connected to the federal government. We don't have time for this kind of closure.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It sounds like it's a happier day here in San Diego than it is in Washington. Thanks so much for joining us.
TODD GLORIA: Thank you for having me
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with Mel Katz of the city library foundation Dr. Helen Griffith and Max, an E-3 civic I student and also Kimberly Bond CEO of mental health systems Incorporated thank you all so much I appreciate it.
ALL: Thank you