Community leaders joined Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Councilmember Vivian Moreno at a ceremony opening the new San Ysidro Branch Library on Saturday, replacing what was the oldest branch in the city.
“This new library is just the latest investment we’ve made to deliver on our promise to lift up historically under-served neighborhoods across our city,” said Faulconer. “It’s been a long time coming, but we’re replacing the oldest library in our system with a new one that has all the modern amenities that the San Ysidro community wants and deserves.”
A project in the making for more than two decades, the new 15,000-square-foot, LEED Silver-certified facility features an outdoor reading patio and movie screen, public art, a teen center, study areas, computer and technology labs, a multi-purpose room and accommodations for persons with disabilities.
“San Ysidro was forced to wait decades for a new library. But after years of struggle and advocacy by the community, San Ysidro has emerged victorious,” Moreno said. “Today, we open the doors of a beautiful new library, a place for us to come together, learn, and take pride in our community.”
The $13.5 million library marks the third new branch library to open since Faulconer took office. It replaces the old branch built in 1924 and is expected to serve more than 55,000 San Diegans per year.
The library is made possible thanks to a public-private partnership between local philanthropists and the city. The city purchased land in September 2015 and provided $12 million for the project. Philanthropists Lloyd and Caroline de Llamas generously contributed $1.5 million.
“My wife and I are pleased to help bring this important new resource to San Ysidro. It is our hope that this will create new opportunities for the children and families of this community where I spent several years of my childhood,” de Llamas said. “State-of-the-art libraries like this one are a way to even the playing field and provide equal resources to often overlooked neighborhoods.”
The opening ceremony was followed by a day-long celebration organized by the San Diego Library Foundation and the Friends of the San Ysidro Library that featured free children’s library books, live mariachi music provided by the San Ysidro High School, library card sign-ups, face painting, puppet and musical shows, an artist talk of the library’s public art pieces, and more.
The public artwork at the library was commissioned by the City’s Commission for Arts and Culture. The artists — brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre — created two distinct, site-specific installations for the San Ysidro Library. The interior and exterior pieces were created with a combination of cultural and historical references, which is a common thread found throughout the work by these internationally-recognized artists.