On November 8 at noon, the Carnegie Society's annual tea was thrown by the San Diego Public Library Foundation on the ninth floor of the new downtown library building.
The luncheon is an invitation-only affair for previous donors and guests, especially those who make the foundation a recipient of largesse in their estate planning. I was privy to an invite and learned that the foundation met all of its major funding goals for the library. This was as promised to the San Diego City Council several years back on the day they had the public hearing on the decision whether to fund the complex. The final funds cover not just the facilities and supplies but also five full years of operational expenses.
Dana Springs, interim executive director of the City of San Diego Commission of Arts & Culture gave a talk and showed a slide presentation of the public art installations in the building, including the main central elevator (not yet operational) that has multiple layers of art on translucent glass, giving “a 3D portal effect to those who enter it.”
The tea was followed by private tours of the facility, though these have been taking place for some time for donors or potential donors, the media, and of course when the facility had its grand opening to the public on the first weekend of October. Still, there are some areas not available to the general public that were quite impressive to see, including a small promontory on the ninth floor that overlooks the reading room (several floors below) from outside, and is nicknamed Pelican Perch.
The practice of donors getting facilities that they fund named for them continues, and perhaps three meeting spaces have yet to receive sponsorship. There are also several facilities in the building that are available, and have already been used, for private rentals for parties and weddings; the room where the tea was held, as well as a 350-seat theater adjacent to the ground-floor courtyard, are a couple of those rooms.
The youth café in the teenager section and the ground-floor café have yet to open, but the submissions process for vendor proposals for these areas has just closed. Parking is currently free, as no contractor has yet signed a pact with the city.
An unexpected feature of the dome is (reportedly) that when the wind is blowing just right it makes a singing or whistling sound quite clearly. Apparently some neighbors have complained. Friends of mine that work on the eighth floor say they haven’t heard it yet, but they’ll let me know if it gets noisy on their watch.
Jay Hill, CEO of the San Diego Public Library Foundation, expressed that with the large funding task mostly behind them, they are now gearing up for library projects that have long been on hold, such as the new Hillcrest/Mission Hills library on Washington Street.