The Need

The San Diego Public Library is the largest provider of free cultural programming in the region.

A thriving Library system is essential to the health, wellbeing, and overall literacy of the community. Libraries are vital places of meaningful interaction, representation, and inclusion, and serve as important venues for fostering conversations about issues affecting San Diego communities deeply, as well as cultural conversations about literature, the arts, and society. The Library also encourages civic engagement and participation. During the fall 2020 election cycle, all 36 San Diego Public Libraries served as ballot drop-off sites, collecting 225,522 general election ballots. Libraries received 70 percent of the drop-off ballots in the county, underscoring the fact that libraries are viewed as trusted community institutions.

The San Diego Public Library is the largest provider of free cultural programming in the region.

Library Solutions


One of the Library’s newest digital resources, Kanopy, provides Library patrons with free remote streaming access to thousands of movies. Patrons have unlimited access to select series and children’s programming, and can stream up to three films per month, including documentaries, classic films, and hard-to-find indie films. Kanopy features many educational video series, ranging from cooking basics and art appreciation to public speaking and the history of World War II. Using the Kanopy app on smartphones, tablets, and computers, patrons can stream educational and enriching videos for children, teens, and adults.

Virtual Travel Center

The Library is creating a virtual travel center at the Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common that aims to explore new service models and technology to engage patrons with the very popular travel collection and highlight previously underappreciated gems of the collection. The center will feature program space and virtual travel components, including educational videos, a floor-standing globe, and an interactive touchscreen that displays digitized maps in the Library’s collection — increasing access to materials seldom seen by the public. There will also be large map cases with magnifying glasses that highlight unique maps in the Library’s collection and encourage patrons to take a closer look.

Central Library Art Gallery

The Library’s exhibition program allows free access to visual art and cultural exhibitions throughout San Diego while promoting local artists and creative community groups. The flagship art gallery at the Central Library hosts a rotating series of exhibitions by both staff and guest curators that focus on contemporary and historical art and culture in the region. A recent exhibition explored San Diego Public Librarian Clara Breed’s advocacy on behalf of Japanese American children during and after World War II. The exhibition was presented in conjunction with a slate of system-wide events, programs, and activities that reflected on Japanese American experiences during World War II and explored themes of social justice, activism, and the power of the written word. The Art Gallery and its programming has received wide acclaim in the press and in the local arts community. Learn more about the library’s art and cultural exhibitions.

From our community

Despite technology, I believe libraries will become a common place for individuals to meet up and work together. I see libraries as a place for collaboration among kids and adults.”

Teresa Contreras, Director of Development, Catholic Extension