The San Diego Central public library remained closed last Saturday, March 20 — the first closure of its kind in the last 18 years. According to their FAQ [PDF], the Library’s budget was recently cut by $3.8 million, as part of city-wide budget cuts due to a drop in tax revenues.
Despite this, the city seems to be still moving forward on the “schoobrary” plan to construct a much-needed new Central library. NBC has a “San Diego explained” video that spells out the math behind the budget for this project. Essentially, a mix of state grants, school district bond funds, donations, and downtown redevelopment taxes (that are earmarked only for new construction in the downtown area) will be used to build a new library building with a charter high school on top of it.
The closing statement of the San Diego examiner article, (“When the San Diego budget is hurting for money so bad that it can’t keep the libraries we have open for business, it is not unreasonable to ask why the city wants to spend so much money on a brand new one”) really rubs me the wrong way. Any library supporter can clearly see that the old 1950s building currently housing the library is wholly insufficient for a growing San Diego downtown community. It’s an eyesore in an area that’s been slated for huge redevelopment since the ballpark opened. It’s always been embarrassing for me that my hometown is a place that can support building a new ballpark and is discussing building a new football stadium, while our library has been neglected for decades, languishing in an asbestos-ridden building with rotting infrastructure. The library building has been outdated nearly as long as Qualcomm stadium has even existed.