It had long been a mystery who was behind most of the $40 million raised for the construction and operation of the schoobrary.

That mystery ended on Friday when the San Diego Public Library Foundation announced the names and amounts of donors. It revealed that Joan and Irwin Jacobs have donated half of all the money the foundation has raised: $15 million for library construction costs, and another $5 million for operations.

The Jacobs’ gift was by far the largest of any other donor.

Here’s the full list:


• Joan and Irwin Jacobs – $15 million

• The Hervey Family Fund – $2 million

• Helen K. and James S. Copley Foundation – $2 million

• Katie and Dan Sullivan – $1.1 million

• Estate of Marcia and Armando de Peralta – $1.08 million

• Frances Hamilton White – $1 million

• Amy and Horacio Valeiras – $600,000

• Estate of Kathryn Neal – $547,000

• Mary H. Clark – $500,000

• Marilyn and Gene Marx – $500,000

• 57 donors below $500,000 – $6.47 million


• Joan and Irwin Jacobs – $5 million

• Anonymous donor – $5 million

The Library Foundation had previously resisted announcing the names of donors, even amid doubts that they could raise all they needed to make up for the $60 million public funding shortfall for the project. It will cost $185 million.

The library will receive $80 million in downtown redevelopment money, $20 million from the San Diego Unified School Board, and a $20 million state grant.

Library boosters still have to raise $32.5 million before the project is completed, otherwise they risk losing the state grant and being left with just an empty shell of a building.

Sara Napoli, a Library Foundation board member, said those fundraising efforts begin tomorrow.

She said the foundation was confident it could raise the money, but also said there was no built-in guarantee that the city would not be liable for the money in the event the foundation falls short.

“In fundraising campaigns, you don’t guarantee things that go forward, because why would people give?” she said.

I asked whether the new library would be named after the Jacobs family.

She said that decision hadn’t been made. “There’s still time to get in,” she said.

The City Council is expected to give final approval for the project on Monday. If that happens, construction will begin next month.


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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