Saturday, July 21, 2007 | The role of the central library in downtown is not duplicated elsewhere in the San Diego region. While branch libraries service the daily needs of specific communities, the main branch, or the trunk, services the entire city and even the greater region.

The most important thing to keep in mind when considering the function of the main library is that citizens pool their resources together to create a one-of-a-kind facility that has resources, systems and capacity that no other libraries have. People would make it a special occasion when they go downtown to the library, and with a new facility next to the ballpark, I believe a good number of citizens would be so excited they’d forego the local animal attractions and relentless surf for a mixed and diverse community made up of the desire to seek knowledge, stories, information, and ultimately, each other. (Incidentally, this is what really gets funded when talking to politicians and philanthropists, it’s not so much the bricks and mortar that get their attention as it is the community development.)

Right now (as we speak) the main library is not an attraction, it has limited resources, systems and capacity and is perceived by many as a social service provider for the homeless, even though that may not be the case. Yet, when we do go to the library, we still read about Athens 2,000 years ago because they had such an enriched cultural heritage. Will we be reading about San Diego in 2,000 years? Perhaps not, but having a new main library would be a good start.

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