By Pablo J. Sáinz
During his childhood in Barrio Logan, Eben Arias-Garcia found sanctuary in the Logan Heights branch of the San Diego Public Library amid violence, drugs, and gangs.
“I remember the old building that was before the current one, about 15 years ago”, he wrote on the Logan Heights Branch Library Facebook page. “Even though the area was very tough those days, the library offered me much refuge in my childhood.”
That is exactly what the Logan Heights Branch Library has been for many generations of Barrio Logan residents: A sacred place where you could learn to read, where you could do your homework, where you could have access to a world of learning.
The community will celebrate 100 years of service of the Logan Heights Branch Library on Sunday, January 4th, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on its current location of 567 South 28th St., in San Diego.
The event will feature arts and crafts, a car show, live music, free food and giveaways, and site tours.
“The 100th Anniversary Celebration will be a very special occasion for the Barrio Logan / Logan Heights communities and library staff to commemorate the past and present accomplishments of the Logan Heights Branch Library,” said Branch Manager Eileen Labrador. “I’m so proud and honored to be the current branch manager that has had the opportunity to serve 5 of the 100 years at this amazing and beautiful facility.”
The library first opened to the public on January 4th, 1915, on a building on 28th St. and Marcy Ave. rented by former Logan Elementary Principal Mabel O’Farrell and other local leaders.
“We have come a long way since then. So come and celebrate with us: All are welcome to attend!” reads a post promoting the centennial celebration on the branch’s Facebook page.
When the library outgrew its quarters, a second and larger facility was rented in 1917, near Logan Avenue and 26th Street. In 1927, a 3,967 square feet branch was constructed at the corner of Logan Avenue and 28th Street. Public restrooms were added in the 1970’s, and upgrades to accessibility for the disabled and the electrical system were made in the 1990’s. The library provided a cozy place for the people of Barrio Logan and Logan Heights for several decades.
The current Logan Heights Branch opened in December, 2009, offering the community a state-of-the-art library.
“It definitely has evolved to become a vital community center that provides a place of ownership, pride, and refuge for many,” Labrador said. “I have heard past stories and experienced first-hand how this branch has positively changed lives!”
As part of the celebration, the community will be able to tour the recently restored murals and art work from the old Aztec Brewing Company that was installed throughout the branch library. The art work features pieces and murals from Spanish artist Jose Moya del Pino, who was influenced by the great Mexican muralists of the early 20th century.
Youth Services Librarian Mariana G. Gonzalez said that the new art work will encourage a love of art among Barrio Logan children.
“Our children have art work easily available,” she said. “These students will benefit from seeing original art made in their community. They’re from Logan, this is their community.”
During fiscal year 2014, the Logan Heights Branch Library had more than 218,000. It also had a circulation of more than 80,000 items from its collection. Branch library events were attended by more than 30,000 children and adults.
After 100 years, the Logan Heights Branch Library continues to be a landmark in the community.
“I look forward to the future because this branch will continue to challenge itself to meet the needs of the community we serve by delivering innovative and quality collections, programming, resources, and services,” Labrador said.
To learn more about programs and events at the Logan Heights Branch Library, please visit facebook.com/loganheightslibrary. Or you can call (619) 533-3968.