The Carmel Valley Branch Library is celebrating 20 years this year! It is a place the community has come to know and love and has been a wonderful resource over the decades. With an incredibly diverse collection and countless programs geared towards people of all ages, it’s no wonder the local hang-out place is one fo the most popular libraries in San Diego. It is not only a place for community members to hunt for books, explore hobbies and interests, engage in new subjects, gather for events and learn new things, it is a place residents can call home. The summer will bring lots of excitment as they open their doors to relish the past and look forward to future embellishments to the library. We talked with Branch Manager, Brenda Wegener, Youth Services Librarian, Emily Derry and Friends President, Suzanne Bacon to discover the ins and out of why the library is such an important part of the 92130 lifestyle. The biggest take from our talk – how passionate they are about bringing joy and wonderment to the eyes and ears of every single person who stops by for a visit. Check it out!

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How did the library facility in Carmel Valley come to be? What is its history?  

The library opened its doors in 1993. Carmel Valley was one of San Diego’s newest communities. The building was designed by architect, Rusty Coombs. The open, airy entrance with a gateway defines the functionality for children, adults and audiovisual aspects. Public art, specifically, friezes and mosaics by Philip Merlin Matzigkeit are incorporated throughout the building. Additionally, Mary Buckman has a bronze sculpture and relief.ZG-9775

Describe the biggest changes in the library today compared to when it first opened.

The influx of technology over the years has been astronomical. As new technology has been added it has created a ripple effect throughout the communities. We will be getting new computers for all libraries in the next fiscal year – as proposed by the Mayor.

Tell us about the  San Diego Public Library system (number of facilities, circulation, etc.) and how the Carmel Valley Branch compares to other branches (size, staff, services offered, etc).

The San Diego Public Library system has 35 libraries and a central library. The overall circulation for the 2012 fiscal year was 6.9 million. Carmel Valley is one of the busiest branches.

What specific areas does the Carmel Valley Branch serve?

The neighborhood is surrounded on the west by Interstate 5 on the south by Sorrento Valley, on the east by Peñasquitos Canyon and Pacific Highlands and on the north by Rancho Santa Fe.

What is the branch’s measurement for the following areas in the past year?

Circulation: 394,083

Patron Visits: 239,588

Internet Signups : 40,315

Program Attendance: Adults 3,694; Juvenile 14,122

Can you describe some the technological advancements the library has experienced?

We have free Wi-Fi throughout all of our branches. We have recently undergone upgrades on our overall website. Additionally, our catalog has had technological changes and updates. We have added apps, Book Mine and Text a Librarian features. We also have online homework help! Parents and students, make note of this service – it  is really a valuable tool. Additionally, the self-checkout option has been a nice added feature for people to be able to use. It frees up our staff to help people with specific inquiries.

What does the library’s collection include besides books?

We have DVDs, CDs, electronic mediums and downloadable items. We have a floating collection of DVDs and CDs that allows them to circulate more freely throughout the branches. This helps keep things fresh. Magazines and periodicals are available for in-library use.

How is the library funded?

We are funded by the City’s general fund and supplemented by grants and donations. The Friends of the Carmel Mountain Branch Library group is very active. We heavily rely on them and community members to fundraise to expand our collections and programs offered.

“What is happening with the library system is phenomenal. We can’t underestimate the fact that we are social animals. We need to come together to be around others, share ideas and learn how to socialize. That’s the reason why libraries will always remain an outlet for people to visit. We are all lifelong learners. The library offers opportunities for people to become inspired!”

Marion Hubbard, Public Information Officer, San Diego Public Library Headquarters

Does the library need volunteers? How does a community member become involved?

Always. Visit www.sandiegolibrary.org and follow the link to discover areas of need that are specific to each library.

What service does the library provide the community that most residents don’t know about?

Homework help is something that has really become popular among students and parents. When this feature is discovered, it is used abundantly – especially before exams. In addition, we have a wonderful collection of recipe books and a large nonfiction collection that assists people with science projects, DIY projects, research papers and so forth.

ZG-9767How does a local resident get a library card?

If you are resident of the State of CA, you can get a library card by coming to the library and showing your ID. We have just released brand new library cards, so now is the time to get a new one. Providing the library card for key rings has been useful for patrons. Patrons tend to like to be able to quickly scan the key card for easy check-out access. Lose your card? We make it simple to get a new one ($2 for adults and $1 for children). Parents, it’s a good idea for kids to have library cards. This teaches them to learn to manage their own library account – and it is very exciting for them as this is usually their first official card.

What is your role as branch manager?

To oversee day to day operations of the library and make sure that Carmel Valley patrons are getting the best possible service, materials and resources.

What do you enjoy most about your role as branch manager? 

I enjoy finding individuals and groups in the community to exhibit in our library display cases and suggest new programs. I also enjoy sitting at the reference desk each day and helping patrons of all ages with their questions. I am an avid reader, so I will always be happy to share my book suggestions.

If you could grant the library one wish, what would that be?

To be able to fund writers from outside of San Diego to give readings at our branch.

Can you tell us about the various programs and additional services offered at the library?

We have numerous story hours for children, book clubs for children, teens and adults, crafts, chess club, science club, yoga for seniors and an upcoming bridge club; just to name a few. We also offer downloadable eBooks, eAudiobooks and circulate Sony Readers to our patrons.

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What is your role as the Youth Services Librarian?  

To provide literary support to children, teens, parents and local schools. I am also responsible for planning and overseeing all children and teen programming.

What do you have planned for the Summer Reading Program?cover

The Summer Reading Program’s theme this year is “Reading is Sooo Delicious.” Children and teens receive prizes for reading between June 15 and Aug. 15. We will also have many fun programs for kids of all ages including magic, science, puppet shows and weekly crafts all relating to the food-based theme. For teens, we will have many hands-on programs including candy-making and a Teen Iron Chef Challenge.

How many kids do you anticipate participating in the program this summer?

Last summer we had over 1,300 children and teen participants. This year, we expect to have even more – and we have an Adult Summer Reading Program too this year!

What is the most rewarding part about working with the children at the library?

When children and young adults tell me that they loved a book they read that I recommended and also when a child approaches me after a program and proudly shows me the project they created.

If you could grant the youth program one wish, what would that be?

Many enthusiastic teens and adults approach me with ideas for more programming at the library. I wish we had more availability in our community room to offer all these great programs. It is a blessing that we have such an involved community!

 

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What is your role as president of the Friends of the Carmel Valley Library?

As president, my role is to have active management in all aspects of our Friends group and to serve as a liaison between our branch Friends group and the corporate or umbrella Friends group for all City branches. We have an amazing library staff, and I am very proud that our Friends group is a real ally to the staff. I became involved with the Friends over three years ago, when I started volunteering. The branch manager at the time asked if I would help the group. At the time I didn’t realize what a powerful group the Friends are. We are an amazing resource supporting our San Diego library system, and we’re all volunteers. Living within walking distance of such an amazing library is a childhood dream come true for me, and it’s an honor to contribute to a place that has given me so much over the years. The library is a place I will always feel at home, and it warms my heart to see what a thriving library we have in Carmel Valley.

What is the mission of the Friends group?cover2

To enhance the San Diego Public Library system so that it may fulfill its literary, educational, technological, community and cultural purposes. Carmel Valley Friends of the Library is a branch of the Friends of the San Diego Public Library. The purpose of this 100% volunteer organization is to support the Central Regional Library, all the branch libraries and in particular the Carmel Valley Library in their effort to provide the widest and best possible service to all the citizens of the City of San Diego. The corporation is empowered to conduct fundraising events to provide financial support to the library system. It is a 501 (c) (3) organization, thus all donations to the Friends of the San Diego Public Library, Carmel Valley Branch are tax deductible.

How many members are in the group and how long has the group been active?

Right now we have a strong core of members who are making incredible things happen. Our overall membership is around 50 people. Our book sales team made it possible for us to donate over $20,000 to the library last year. The Friends fund things like children’s programs, materials, equipment and the highly popular family music night. Many of the funds we donate are matched by the City, so donating to the Friends lets you get twice as much out of your dollar!

How does one become a member of the Friends group? When and where do you meet?

You can pick up a donation envelope at the library. Membership ranges from $5 to $50. Also right now there is a sale on individual Life membership for $250 (vs. $500) through September 2013. We meet at the library the first Wednesday of the month, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. You don’t have to attend meetings to be a member, although we welcome more involvement from our members and the community.

Do you have any upcoming events readers should be aware of?

We sponsor free monthly music concerts and hold ongoing books sales. Our community is very generous with book donations. When the library cannot add a book to its collection, we sell the books and the proceeds benefit the library. We have also started an online book store for our more valuable and antique books. Please help us spread the word by visiting www.abebooks.com/friends-san-diego-public-library-diego/58821771/sf.

This summer is the library’s 20th anniversary. There will be a celebration on Saturday, July 27. We are also excited because our Friends group has been working with the city and with support from Councilmember Sherri Lightner’s office as well as the Del Mar Highlands Center, the exterior of our library will be repainted. We welcome the community to come celebrate 20 years of our Carmel Valley Library.