What became known as the San Diego Public Library had its beginnings in 1882 on the second floor of the Consolidated Bank Building at Fifth and G Streets in downtown San Diego. The first published catalog, compiled by Lulu Younkin in 1889, listed 7,800 volumes.
In the decades since, the San Diego Public Library has grown into a robust stystem comprising thirty-five branches and the central library. Today our collections include more than 3.8 million items, including books, audio-visual materials, and the latest downloadable ebooks. We serve a population of more than 1.3 million residents over a geographic area of 342 square miles (reaching as far north as Rancho Bernardo and as far south as San Ysidro).
The photographs collected here provide a visual history the San Diego Public Library system as a whole. For a detailed history of the Central Library, please see the companion collection, Central Library History.
Further Reading: Essays on the History of the San Diego Public Library
- Early, 1880-1890, and the California Room
- History of the Carnegie Library in San Diego, 1902-52
- Turning the Pages: San Diego Public Library History, 1882-1982, by Clara E. Breed
- San Diego's First Library (PDF)
Originally published as "Library provided literary oasis for San Diego," by Richard Crawford in the San Diego Union-Tribune, June 6, 2009
- First library building quickly outgrew its space (PDF) by Richard Crawford, San Diego Union-Tribune. May 24, 2008
- San Diego's Central Library camped in Balboa Park (PDF) by Richard Crawford, San Diego Union-Tribune. May 13, 2010
- San Diego's Bookmobiles (PDF)
Originally published as "Bookmobiles filled growing void where libraries were in demand: Rolling service operated for nearly a half-century," by Richard Crawford in the San Diego Union-Tribune, September 10, 2009
- San Diego's Public Library - The First Carnegie Library in California (4m 41s)