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How To Own A Piece Of San Diego’s Old Central Library

Reported by Matthew Bowler

The San Diego Central Library moved to a new building nearly three years ago, but many tables, chairs, bookshelves and other items were left behind at the old location. Now the furniture, electronics, VHS tapes and signs are up for bid at a public auction Saturday.

Bobby Beacham with AAA Public Auction, which the city hired to organize the event, says the items for sale range from the practical to the nostalgic.

"There's something for everyone here," Beacham said. "You'll be able to walk through and find anything from an office desk, a chair, employee lockers to some cool mid-century and art deco pieces for collectors."

Doors at the former library on Eighth Avenue and F Street open at 9 a.m. for San Diegans to review the more than 500 lots available. Bidding will begin at 11 a.m. Access will be limited to the first floor until 12:30 p.m., after which San Diegans will have about 30 minutes to peruse the upstairs areas before bidding begins.

The second and third floors are home to some of the more valuable items, including leather theater seats and Beacham's favorite piece: a 200-drawer card catalogue.

"I've been involved full time in auctions since 1999, and this is the biggest one I've ever seen," he said of the card catalogue.

Beacham said prices have not been pre-determined and he is confident every item will be sold by the end of the day.

"Generally the auctioneer will throw out a number just to get things rolling but yeah, there is no reserve, so you possibly could buy anything in this building for $1," he said.

He stressed that San Diegans should come prepared to move the heavy furniture themselves.

City of San Diego spokeswoman Nicole Darling said the city is holding the auction to recycle the furniture instead of discarding it in a landfill.

"I do think they want to make sure that nothing ends up in the Dumpster, just thrown away," Darling said. "We obviously want to be eco-friendly and try to sell or repurpose everything that we can."

Darling said a few city staff members are eager to own their own piece of the library and plan on attending the auction.

Two artifacts San Diegans won't see for sale include the library's phone booths. Also, fixtures fastened to the walls or ceilings won't be available because of concerns about asbestos when removing them.

A specific use for the former library building has not been determined, but the period to submit proposals concluded Friday afternoon.

After covering costs for Saturday's event, proceeds from the auction will go to San Diego's budget to benefit the city's libraries.

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