Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006 | On the topic of a new Central Library for San Diego, I would like to build on Fran Zimmerman’s comments.

I am left speechless by the ignorance of remarks that “a warehouse” collection is adequate for library users and that the Internet provides “everything.” People who make such judgments demonstrate their lack of understanding of the differences between a major library collection and the floating collection that county librarian Aponte speaks of. Mr. Aponte, however, has no excuse for suggesting that a floating collection will adequately serve all library user needs – he does know better. In fact, his county library system provides their clientele with huge numbers of materials borrowed from the San Diego Central Library and from local university libraries.

The San Diego Central Library serves not just San Diego city residents, but library users throughout San Diego County through reciprocal borrowing agreements which enable any county resident, be they in the unincorporated county or in one of the many smaller city libraries such as National City, Coronado or Escondido.

A major central library collection makes materials available to people whose needs extend beyond recreational reading or basic research. Many smaller libraries do not have the money to buy all of the materials they would like to have in an ideal world, or the space to house them.

A “warehoused” collection cannot provide access to the thousands of unique items which cannot be loaned out because they are unique, extremely expensive or even long out of print. Many of these items are invaluable for researchers’ needs. And the primary reason for a new Main Library is to bring hundreds of thousands of items out of the two levels of basement storage at the main library so that people can access them directly instead of having to fill out call slips to have materials brought to them, a variation of the “warehouse” collection advocated by some.

In closing, when high tech and research corporations consider locating in a region, a major library collection is as important a criterion as the quality of schools and colleges. These companies understand the importance of having an educated workforce from which to draw employees. A Central Library such as San Diego’s is an invaluable civic and educational resource; how we manage this resource represents how we value knowledge and education.

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