Libraries big and small offer opportunity for reflection

The San Diego county library system has 33 branches in neighborhoods from Jacumba to Julian, Vista to Bonita as well as a couple of Bookmobiles. Some, like the Santee branch, are essentially storefront locations tucked between a breakfast joint and a cupcakery while others like the Alpine branch have meeting rooms, a Poet’s Patio and a large computer room. Despite design differences, all of them serve the same purpose: they provide free resources for the community with trained help on hand. The entire system falls under the county Land Use and Environment group, a two-fold offering of both a physical use of land and a collection designed to improve one’s environment, the conditions under which a person operates.

The Lakeside library, just down the hill from Alpine is an aging facility with visible water damage but a lovely lakefront view from the children’s section; it is being replaced by a new facility that promises modular spacing and low-water landscaping just ten minutes walking distance from the current building. On one hand, it is a shame to lose the connection between the children’s playground, the community center, and the library, a trifecta of learning and play and personal development. On the other hand, the new location is equidistant to El Capitan High school and holds the promise of public meeting space. Regardless, the project has already received flak, before even opening, from local residents with two primary complaints repeatedly put forth in unofficial social media commentary: the county is funding an upgrade to a space frequently used by homeless people and the building does not fit the character of the East county community.

I’ve yet to see anyone take issue with the dollars spent on electrical outlets which can be used to charge a cellular phone, have not heard of one person questioning the presumably free toilet paper likely to be stocked in publicly available bathrooms, don’t think I’ve heard any resident ask whether the free internet should be limited to those who pay rent or a mortgage on a monthly basis. Rather, the first complaint seems to be Homeless (capital ‘H’) presence without any granular objection. The second complaint, that the library design does not reflect the community, is more challenging because roughly 50 residents out of the 20,000 who live in Lakeside turned up at the July 2020 public meeting intended to solicit community feedback before construction began.

However, both complaints are valid in their own way and in a strange twist, perfectly reflect the core of a library. They come from wanting a better community and, if I may make the leap, I’d posit that many people are uncomfortable around an obviously-homeless individual because it forces questions: what happened? Am I in danger? Why doesn’t somebody do something? Why are they here?

There is an element of judgment involved but there is also observing and questioning and perhaps a bit of frustration. There is fact in the form of an undeniable human being and what could be more appropriate for a library than knowledge?

Whether or not county residents pass through Lakeside, there are events planned for libraries throughout all of East county.

  • Family Bingo night is planned for the Alpine library from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Oct. 15.
  • Liberty Charter High School students will lead physical activities for toddlers and preschoolers on the Community Center lawn adjacent to the library from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m on Oct. 19. Including an obstacle course, music and dancing, and face painting.
  • Join in the Crafters’ Paradise from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 at the Alpine library to learn how to knit or crochet with free yarn included.
  • Oct. 27, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. watch a Japanese form of storytelling, Kamishibai where a series of illustrations is revealed as the story unfolds.
  • Head to the Campo-Morena Village library every Thursday for digital literacy and tech help all day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. County residents can learn the basics of using a Google Chromebook, desktop computer, and other devices. Receive a Google Chromebook and MiFi device to take home for a year while supplies last with a county library card. The Campo-Morena Village library also offers preschool storytime from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. every Friday with stories specially chosen for children ages two and younger.
  • A Draw With Me class is being offered at the Descanso library from 4 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 12. Join the afterschool crowd for a guided drawing class, where students learn to draw something new every week, all supplies included.
  • A Teen Makerspace is also available after school, daily from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Descanso library with space to create a different S.T.E.A.M. project each week or just hang out with friends.
  • The Potrero library will host the monthly Senior Food Program from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 27 for seniors 60 years of age or older. USDA food is given to registered participants on a monthly basis.

Visit for information on these and other San Diego county branch library events happening in August.

You can email Jessica at: with comments and suggestions.


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