Evidence A                                                                                 

User Needs and Community Demographics Study/Assessment

San Diego Public Library System – Central Library (Downtown/Main branch)

Trend Analysis:

Downtown San Diego became reinvigorated in 2000, due to redevelopment efforts on the part of the city. Billions have been invested. The area consists of 1500 acres. In 2000, there were 16,000 residential units, 27,500 residents, and 85,000 employees. By 2030, they anticipate over 50,000 residential units, 89,000 residents, and 165,000 employees. Hotel rooms will more than double from 8,800 to 20,200; most likely due to planned Convention Center expansion to accommodate San Diego Comic-Con and other large conventions. The U.S. Census shows the main population is single people between the ages of 25 to 34, college graduates with a median income of $54,001. Family households make up only 26.3%. As a highly urban area where most of the residences are condos or apartments, this makes sense.


A library’s purpose is to serve its community. A library that doesn’t understand who their community is or knows what their needs are isn’t an effective library. A community assessment would tell the library management and staff how their local community uses or doesn’t use its library, and what areas they could improve upon to serve their needs i.e. a Hispanic community or Vietnamese community could use materials in their native language. It can also serve as a basis for increased funding or other resources including grant applications.

Key informants like local public officials and business leaders or community groups and charities that operate Downtown would be useful contacts for the Central Library. The library staff could reach out to the school and mental health office on-site for collection advice and referrals. They could keep up to date on their needs. A geographical information survey could help them obtain local users. Small scale studies would be more beneficial at first since the library is brand new and in the news, attracting attention. Many visitors come from other areas of San Diego due to the size of their collection and new facility. Focus groups of regular patrons could help the Central Library keep up-to-date on their needs to retain them and recent trends.


The first few days after opening, the Central Library welcomes 15,000 people who checked out 9000 books. Eleven thousand library cards were issued to new users. A past library survey showed that homeless patrons utilized the old Central Library for job search help and information for health care. Continued surveys of library users would be beneficial as would regular community analysis. The area has undergone many changes and will continue to do so due to redevelopment. Outreach to communities such as the homeless and the work commuters to make sure they are being served would be helpful. The library hours are late during the week. The commuters could visit after work.


Downtown San Diego is an urban environment consisting of luxury condominiums and affordable rental units. There is also a “dynamic and robust” business climate, with many government, legal and banking offices located Downtown. The convention center and Petco Park stadium are located Downtown, near the new Central Library. There are a few colleges nearby like San Diego City Community and California Western School of Law. Many tourists visit the area. There are also many commuters for work, business or pleasure as the Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza mall and the upscale hotels in the area are popular. About 85,000 people work Downtown and about 30,000 live there, not including the significant homeless population (about 6,000). Many of them can be found sleeping outside the library on the concrete overnight.

The new $184.9 million dollar ten floor Central Library opened its doors last month. Many visitors included tourists and people visiting from other areas of San Diego. There is a built-in base of school age children – San Diego Unified Public School District has leased out two floors for a charter school. Mental Health Systems, a local non-profit that serves the mentally ill and homeless, has offices in the library to offer assistance.

It’s a wide-range in a community base for the library to reach and serve.


Civic San Diego: http://civicsd.com/neighborhoods/downtown.html

Downtown San Diego Visitors Center http://www.sandiegodowntown.org/


Gonyeau, Amy. “Compassion Trumps Decorum in Handling the Homeless.” Voice of San Diego. 11 Oct 2013. Retrieved from: http://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/10/11/compassion-trumps-decorum-in-handling-the-homeless/

Ogul, Jeremy. “Checking out the new Central Library.” Mission Valley News. 11 Oct 2013. Retrieved from: http://scoopsandiego.com/mission_valley_news/local_news/checking-out-the-new-central-library/article_b79b53be-31cf-11e3-ad95-0019bb30f31a.html

Zaragoza, Barbara. “New San Diego Central Library Hosts first board meeting.” San Diego Reader. 8 Oct 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2013/oct/08/stringers-new-san-diego-central-library-hosts/

Perry, Tony. “San Diego celebrates its long-awaited new library.” Los Angeles Times. 28 Sept 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-san-diego-library-20130929,0,5051982.story?track=rss#axzz2isoL0RQv