Mayor Kevin Faulconer and city leaders used the backdrop of a branch library crowded with schoolchildren Tuesday to promote a city budget that would restore library hours across San Diego.
Faulconer was joined by his opponent in the recent mayor’s race, Councilman David Alvarez, and by Council President Todd Gloria, San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten and Library Director Deborah Barrow at the Logan Heights branch.
The proposed budget would add four hours a week at every branch location and five hours at the new central library. In addition, 12 branches would get extended weekend hours.
“Libraries will again play a key role in our city,” said Faulconer, citing the intangible value of libraries in educating children and promoting civic engagement.
“Our children with us here today will have a better chance of success,” he added.
Gloria pointed out that only a year ago San Diego was discussing the possibility of closing libraries, but they remain relevant as community assets and help children expand their horizons. “Young or old, rich or poor, we all have memories of checking out books at a library,” he told the crowd of schoolchildren and library supporters.
Alvarez recalled that as a middle school student at nearby Memorial Prep Academy he was a frequent visitor to the library. He said extending library hours is good for the community and for students. “I’d rather have them go to the library than out in the streets,” he said.
In addition to restoring library hours, Faulconer’s proposed budget would add funding for a comprehensive after-school program called “Do Your Homework @ the Library Program.” The program would target kindergarten through 8th grade students. Learning coordinators would be employed at 18 libraries.