By Pablo Jaime Sainz
Ernesto Retes remembers when the South Chula Vista Library opened 10 years ago.
He was a high school student at the time, and said he owes much of his academic success to that building.
“At home there was always a lot of noise, people coming in and out, so I couldn’t concentrate,” he said. “I would come to this library and study, do my homework in a really quiet environment. Also, I had lots of resources available: Books, reference volumes, encyclopedias, help from the librarians. Without a doubt, I was able to graduate from high school and then go on to college thanks to this great place.”
Retes was visiting the South Chula Vista Library to use one of the computers with internet access.
He was in Chula Vista visiting his family during a short trip from Los Angeles, where he now lives.
Once he got to the parking lot, he started noticing something with the building something good.
“I was amazed!” he said.
Just like other library guests, Retes is happy to see that, after 10 years of opening, the South Chula Vista Library has gotten a major face-lift.
The first obvious change is that the exterior has been repainted in the original sunflower yellow color and its two obelisks returned to a brilliant purple hue.
“This is just like I remembered it,” Retes said when he saw the building.
But the most exciting change has been the marketplace area with its interior fountain, displayers of hundreds of new books and new lounge furniture.
“The marketplace highlights resources for seasonal topics like travel, holidays and gardening; more displays of the most popular children’s books and current Spanish favorites; and a redesigned checkout are for self-checkout and library card registration,” said Assistant City Manager/Library Director David Palmer.
Much of the renovation work at the South Chula Vista Branch was completed as a result of a construction defect settlement.
“All of these changes provide better customer service, promote higher circulation and allow the library to retain its place as a community-gathering center,” Palmer said. “The Marketplace responds to our library’s customer surveys which indicate that the public wants both more copies and titles.”
Other remodeling at the library included repairing and sealing the interior floor tile, reworking and repairing the two interior fountains, repairing the roof, and repainting the roof.
With a collection of more than 190,000 volumes, with one third of those in Spanish, the South Chula Vista Library serves a diverse community.
Manuela Ybarra is a Mexican grandmother who brings her grandchildren to the library so that they can read children’s books in Spanish.
“Here I can read to them stories from Mexico in our native language, this way they can practice their Spanish while becoming more and more bilingual,” she said.
Originally designed by acclaimed Mexico City architect Ricardo Legorreta, the library building has many Mexican features, such as the Mayan-inspire ceilings in the Young Adults room.
Averaging 33,000 guests a month, the South Chula Vista Library is a place where the community can have access to information while drinking a cup of coffee from the Café.
“Although I no longer live in Chula Vista, every time I come down from L.A., I’ll make sure to stop by this library. It is an inspiring place for me,” Retes said.
The South Chula Vista Branch is located at 389 Orange Ave. For more information, call (619) 585-5755, or visit www.chulavistalibrary.com.