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Remember card catalogs? They’re history. So, at least for the moment, are San Diego libraries that are open frequently in the evening and on each day of the weekend.

Branch libraries are now typically open just 36 hours a week compared to almost 51 back in 2000. And the planned downtown central library — yes, the famed schoobrary — may only be open 44 hours a week.

As we report, that’s 20 fewer hours than library officials planned for as recently as two years ago. The new number takes into account closures on Saturdays.

A brand new, fancy central downtown library that’s closed on Saturdays, the only day many working people and their families have to visit the library in the first place? You can bet that critics of the schoobrary project will jump on this.

Our story provides all the perspective you need: We examine the numbers, recap the promises and talk to schoobrary fans and foes.

In other news:

  • So how did the estimate for construction of the downtown schoobrary project actually come in at $115,000 less than the $185 million estimate back in 2005? Has the Great Recession really had that much of an impact on construction prices?

    It has indeed, a vice president with the city’s contractor tells us. “No one’s building anything,” he said. “It’s pure economics.”

  • Mark your calendars: We’re holding a San Diego school board candidate forum on May 20. It’ll be for candidates running from areas B (which includes Tierrasanta, Scripps Ranch and part of City Heights) and C (which includes La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Point Loma and downtown.)
  • Columnist Scott Lewis speculates about what confessed murderer John Gardner III, fresh off his disturbing television interview, was really thinking about the death penalty. My question: Why do we watch these interviews when they never do anything but infuriate and disappoint us?
  • If our story earlier this week made you to want to know more about efforts to improve vocabulary in local schools, we’ve got a follow-up post with details about English learners, the lack of consistency in vocabulary instruction, and a discussion spawned by our story.

    Also, our reporter gets a lesson in vocabulary herself, thanks to a Harvard professor and, yes, good ol’ Donald Rumsfeld. She now has a new word to use in conversation. Another known known, you could say.

  • We’ve also got a follow-up to what one reader called “a beautiful story” about the intersection of art and science, including a nifty photo of Pablo Picasso and his mistress Francoise Gilot, who later married Jonas Salk. 
  • You may think the best part of watching our Fact Check TV segments is critiquing the neckties of the two hosts and wondering whether they’ll bother to shave or go with the “Miami Vice” look. (What, it’s not 1988 anymore?) But now there’s more: a new sound effect. Oooo-eeee-ooooo… (that’s my approximation of a siren).

Elsewhere:

  • “The U.S. Supreme Court today let stand a lower court’s finding that the Boy Scouts cannot lease city-owned parkland in Balboa Park because it is a religious organization,” KPBS reports. “The nation’s high court refused to hear an appeal from San Diego-area Scouts who had traditionally leased the 18-acre Camp Balboa for $1 per year.”
  • Also in the U-T: The father of murdered teen Amber Dubois is pushing for new legislation that would, among other things, brand sex offenders on their driver’s licenses. County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price is under investigation by a state agency over not reporting gifts from the Old Globe Theater and San Diego Opera; she has pushed for county funding to go to them. 
  • In the NCT: “County supervisors are being asked to lay off 66 workers and eliminate 517 vacant positions to save a combined $45.2 million.” The NCT says most of the vacant positions have been empty since last July.

    The story says county supervisors don’t want to dip into $700 million in reserves. I’d like to hear more about that: aren’t reserves for financial emergencies?

  • In the U-T: “Overall crime in San Diego County reached a 25-year-old low last year despite the ongoing economic turmoil, according to annual crime statistics released Monday.”
  • Never mind the city’s myriad and unresolved financial problems. They can wait. The City Council has a political opinion, and attention must be paid: it found time yesterday to worry about — and oppose — a new immigration law in Arizona. Meanwhile, only one of the three sheriff candidates, Jay LaSuer, backs the law. (U-T)
  • Channel 6 says two lifeguards “are outraged and fighting to get their jobs back after being fired for taking part in a funeral celebration” in potentially contaminated ocean water. Update: The Channel 6 report incorrectly says they are San Diego lifeguards; they are former Imperial Beach lifeguards.)
  • San Diego Uptown News says a $4 million renovation of El Cajon Boulevard’s Lafayette Hotel has begun. It was built in 1946 and became “a haunt of celebrities such as Bob Hope, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and Betty Grable.”
  • The internet domain SanDiego.com is for sale in a foreclosure auction (man, foreclosures are everywhere!), and may be worth $8 million. (DN Journal)
  • Finally, the AP reports that Saks Fifth Avenue is closing its San Diego store, leaving it with just four outlets in the whole state.

    Yikes. I guess I’m going to have to go elsewhere to get my $2,495 Jimmy Choo platform strappy sandals. They do come in men’s size 13, right?

— RANDY DOTINGA

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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