SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) - San Diego's long-awaited Central Library opened to the public Monday.
"Welcome to your library," Deborah Barrow, the city's director of libraries, told people in line as the doors opened.
The $185-million, nine-story facility at 330 Park Blvd. in downtown's East Village will open at 9:30 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. for today only, according to library officials, who said the normal hours of operation for Mondays will be noon to 8 p.m.
"It's, aesthetically, a beautiful building," patron Brett Morris told News 8. "It's going to have services that the old main library didn't have. It's going to be a destination for people who like to read and write."
Officials gathered Saturday to dedicate the library in front of thousands of area residents, unveiling the facility's official name, the San Diego Central Library Joan and Irwin Jacobs Common. The name is in recognition of the millions of dollars donated to the construction project by the Qualcomm co-founder and his wife.
Jacobs said the name reflects the library as a civic gathering place, much like Boston Common, near where he grew up.
He said during his travels in recent years, he always stops at a city's central library and they're always full of people. The Internet can't replace a library as a place to associate, he said.
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Mel Katz, who led a fundraising effort for the city's library foundation, said 3,000 San Diegans donated to the project. With a recent $1.2 million gift from philanthropist Darlene Shiley, the library is "100 percent paid for," he said.
Construction on the library began in August 2010. Charter school e3 Civic High, which can accept about 500 students, occupies the sixth and seventh floors.
The nearly 500,000-square-foot library, which is more than twice the size of its predecessor, includes a 350-seat auditorium, a three-story domed reading room, a 9,100-square-foot children's room, a teen center, a technology center and a multi-purpose room, according to city officials. It also features an outdoor garden courtyard and cafe and 250 parking spaces on two levels.
The library's normal operating hours will be noon to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.