Right Step to a Library

San Diego desperately needs a new central library, and the City Council is moving ahead on plans to build it. One major obstacle appears to have been overcome when all five members of a City Council committee agreed that the site of the new building should be the Community Concourse.

It was an excellent selection, and the whole council should endorse it. The city's downtown is maturing at a steady pace with five major office buildings having come on line in the past four years, the Horton Plaza shopping and entertainment center opening this month, and the convention center scheduled for completion by 1988. More and more, downtown is taking on an urban feel.

So, it is wise to keep the main library located in the heart of the business district, where a heavy concentration of people and businesses can have easy access to it. With the new convention center making the Concourse's Golden Hall obsolete, it makes good sense to build the library on that city-owned land.

The next step--and perhaps a more difficult one--will be to determine what the financing scheme and the nature of the new building will be. Among the ideas under consideration is a plan to allow a private developer to build an office tower in conjunction with the library. Space would be rented out privately, and the city might be able to relocate there some of the offices it has scattered about the city. One developer already has provided the broad outline of a plan to replace City Hall with an entirely new governmental-library-office complex.

A great deal of study must be done before it becomes a reality, but getting private enterprise involved with a project as decidely public in nature as a library is a fascinating idea that the City Council should investigate with an open mind. However those deliberations go in the future, the council should not back away from a resolve to build a library that will have enough capacity to meet envisioned needs for the next 25 years and with room to expand. They don't want to make the same mistake made by city officials who opened the current library in 1954, only to find it hopelessly undersized in just a few years.

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