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Saturday, November 22, 2014

San Diego Public Library, and Public Libraries

I am in love with libraries. Is there a word for this? Someone has asked a Yahoo, but I am not sure I see an answer that works for me. So, as a book-lover is a bibliophile, as a word-lover is a philologist, what is a library-lover?

Anyway, San Diego Public Library,, stands as a great municipal institution, befitting this jewel of an American city, really just the perfect climate, shimmering water, profound historical Spanish, Mexican and Anglo historical crossings. To me it feels most like Santa Barbara and San Francisco in its coastal-and-Spanish vibe (less like newer LA, while the warm-and-Spanish thing makes it feel a little like Santa Fe).

As a municipal institution worthy of the name must, SDPL serves the public. Taxes are not tyranny when it comes to things like libraries. Stupidity is dangerous and bad for everyone, and warding it off through public investment is no less useful than warding off the fucking cholera, or paying skilled and strong people to exercise organized violence. San Diego is built and sustained on public dollars to this day, not least through its permanent militarization from Cabrillo in 1542 to the freshly-forged (and several more leathered) Marines et al. flying out last night. Safest place on earth last night, San Diego International airport, assuming you love 'Merca and aren't looking to fight.

I love that it remains the San Diego Public Library. It keeps a municipal name, though of course I reckon that a lot of private money has come in. Two-edged sword, that. The private money that can come in through a naming is huge, as it has been since probably well before the Medicis patronized Florentine artists, scholars and public works. I recently came across some neat pieces around the Garciaverse venue Avery Fisher Hall, i.e., the home of the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. Avery Fisher's family, after resisting, is being paid to allow for an unnaming (see . The namesake bought cheap in the 80s, like $25 million, and the refresh the NY Phil wants and needs runs to the hundreds of millions. There are lots of prospective someone and something elses that might be interested in that particular emblazoning. There's a shitload of money sloshing around Gotham in the New Gilded Age.

Like my beloved San Francisco Public Library, and like every great public library in the world but with the higher relative frequency you see in temperate climates, homeless folks populate the SDPL, especially during the winter months. Fine. It's a true public institution. Everyone has a right to go there and spend the day hanging out and reading. And who doesn't like to drift off to sleep in a comfy chair over a good book? S'all good to me, good to give a hand to an American who's down on his or her luck, as the Looney Tunes used to say.

Here's my call to some would-be Medici Deadhead in the San Diego area: pay for some more state-of-the-art microfilm/form scanners. San Francisco Public Library's are terrific, and almost certainly not cheap. Someone's gift paid for those badboys, and SDPL could use a few more. And endow a little fund that can pay for printing paper from the old-style film scanners, as well. That's still useful, and I'd bet it doesn't run more than few thou a year. A little endowed gift of $50k to start would probably pay for it, in perpetuity. And it'd make the world a better place.

I already discussed a probable rainout of the putative JGMS show at San Diego State on 11/18/73. Next I'll write up a new-to-me canceled Dead gig with an interesting splash of color (update - done).

! ref: Pogrebin, Robin. 2002. Avery Fisher Hall Forever, Heirs Say. New York Times, May 13, URL, consulted 11/28/2014. 
 ! ref: Pogrebin, Robin. 2014. Lincoln Center to Rename Avery Fisher Hall. New York Times, November 13, URL, consulted 11/28/2014.
! ref: Roberts, Sam. 2014. With Naming Rights, Perpetuity has a Cutoff. New York Times, November 28, 2014, p. A26.

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