Editor: The City broke ground yesterday on construction of the new Central Library in downtown San Diego. On hand for us as witnesses were Anna Daniels- a former City librarian – and her hubby Rich Kacmar toting a camera. Anna filed the following observations:
To be honest, I never thought I’d live long enough to see a much needed new central library in this city. The City Council gave the green light last month to its construction but it wasn’t until we were all invited to this morning’s groundbreaking that I felt it was truly going to happen.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that the event would turn out to be a political love fest. Current city and state politicians and past politicians and school board members sat in rows on the stage. The Library Foundation members who raised thirty four million dollars in private donations were there. The state library director was there. The mayor recognized them all individually and a number of them had the opportunity to speak.
I am not taking issue with any of these people being on that stage. They should have been there. Without political will and political support a new central library would never happen. Nor would this particular civic building be built without significant private funding, although requiring private funding for a public facility is a disturbing requirement.
I am taking issue with the size of the stage, who was not included there.
I was completely dumbfounded that the mayor did not have the courtesy to recognize on the stage all of the former city librarians, one of whom was in the crowd. They understood that the citizens needed and deserved a new central library.
Three of them- Marco Thorne, Bill Sannwald, and Anna Tatar had worked long and hard on this project since the late 70’s. The current library director, Deborah Barrow had a chair on the stage, and she and library staff were quickly acknowledged, but she wasn’t given the opportunity to speak. These individuals also represent the city workforce, city employees, so their omission or cursory treatment is a significant one.
There would be no new central library without the vision and hard work of past and present library staff, nor without the advocacy work that they did on their own time as private citizens. So many city workers care deeply about what they do. It would have cost the mayor absolutely nothing to have recognized past directors and the city workforce. A significant number of us in that two block long crowd was retirees, and each one of us was there because of our belief in libraries and the great need for a new central library.
All too often, public employees are either maligned or remain invisible and made negligible. The mayor had an opportunity to provide a different narrative, but he didn’t. I guess he just couldn’t figure out how to get a bigger stage.
Here’s the Union-Tribune account by Roger Showley (Class of 1966 Point Loma HS).