San Diego County Library, Ramona Branch, CA

The San Diego County Library (SDCL) has faced dire budget cuts over the past few years — nearly 30% — but through hard work and strategic budget allocation they overcame adversity. Ramona Public Library, along with the 32 other SDCL branches, collectively tripled their circulation from 4.1 million in 2008 to 12.4 million in 2012, while also developing and offering more than 20,000 programs in that same year! These are just a couple of the many reasons that Library Journal selected San Diego County Library as the 2012 Library of the Year.

Progressive, community-focused libraries like Ramona play an integral part in the SDCL success story. The rural community of Ramona is 35 miles northeast of San Diego, California. Established in the 1970s, the original library only needed to serve one-fifth of the current population of 50,000. Because of its small size, it also lacked room and facilities for up-to-date electronic technology, and had only four public access computers. Once the need for a new library was decided upon by the county board and community leaders, the Friends of the Ramona Library began a great collaborative effort. They rallied together area schools, the County Library staff, the Ramona Senior Center, the Boys and Girls Club, healthcare providers and others in the Ramona community. As a result of this broad involvement, the concept of an intergenerational community campus was generated.

Demco collaborated with Manuel Oncina Architects to create a contemporary and vibrant library. Upon entering the library patrons are greeted by:

  • A multitude of book displays containing the library’s most popular materials
  • Face-out orientation of books and media, allowing patrons to quickly flip through materials while browsing — a more pleasing experience than sifting through spine-out books and media
  • Demco’s proprietary TechnoLink service desks incorporated into the layout, which fits seamlessly into the SDCL shift toward reconfiguring library spaces to increase staff’s face-to-face time helping customers
  • Smaller service points sprinkled throughout the space and more automated services — so librarians are no longer hidden behind giant circulation desks
  • A children’s area finished with fun, movable and pint-sized furniture for the little ones to climb on and interact with one another
  • Face-out displays in the children’s area, encouraging children to be drawn into a book by the engaging and colorful book covers

This beautiful new library would not have been possible without an extremely important group of library enthusiasts. Since 1985, the Friends of the Ramona Library have been dedicated to making the library the best that it can be. They have a reputation among SDCL staff as one of the most enthusiastic and effective friends groups in the entire county system. They raised $132,000 in cash and nearly $650,000 in pledges towards building the new library! It is safe to say this project was the result of a driven, motivated and forward-thinking group of people who see great potential in their community — and understand that having a thriving library is one of the most important components in elevating the people in and around Ramona.

Location: Ramona Public Library
Architect: Manuel Oncina Architects, Inc.
Client:  San Diego County Library – Ramona Branch
Total Square Feet: 19,400
Completion Date: February 2011