Books and Beyond
Carlsbad’s first library opened in 1967, providing the community with a special place to gather and read. Now, nearly 50 years later, there are three Carlsbad City Libraries that offer much more than just books. Two of these facilities were recently renovated and reopened, expanding the library’s scope of impact by meeting the ever-changing needs of the community in today’s digital age. Despite these changes, however, the library’s primary goal remains the same: to create learning opportunities for people of all ages through its wide variety of programs and services. Read along as we talk with City of Carlsbad Library & Cultural Arts Department Director Heather Pizzuto about how Carlsbad’s libraries continue to foster a resourceful and resilient community.
Q&A with City of Carlsbad Library & Cultural Arts Department Director Heather Pizzuto
How many libraries are in Carlsbad? Which specific areas does each library serve?
There are three libraries in the City of Carlsbad: Georgina Cole Library in Northern Carlsbad, Carlsbad City Library on Dove Ln. in Southern Carlsbad, and the Carlsbad City Library Learning Center in Northern Carlsbad. Collectively, the libraries serve 65,000 visitors of all ages each month. Every year, 1.3 million books, DVDs, and other materials circulate in and out of Carlsbad libraries. Thanks to research we’ve conducted, we know that about 85 percent of city residents visit the library either in person or online every year, and 57 percent use library services on a monthly basis. All these numbers speak to the value of our library system here in Carlsbad.
What is your current role at the library? What do you enjoy most about your job?
I am the Library & Cultural Arts Department director. In this role, I lead a talented team of 220 full and part-time staff to provide high-quality library and cultural arts programs which support an excellent quality of life and educational opportunities for the community. What I most enjoy about my job is working on projects that are innovative and provide the best service to our community. Using the recent remodel project as an example, we had an opportunity there to look at our key mission and the future of libraries. We started out talking about simply refreshing paint and adding new carpet. But before moving forward with improvements, we felt it was a good opportunity to discuss the nature of information delivery and how technology has changed libraries. This broadened the scope of the project, but in the end left us better equipped to serve the community given the ever-changing trends in technology.
“I go to the Open Studios art program. I enjoy the art projects and visiting the gallery. I have met artists and made new friends.” – Ella T.
Tell us more about the history of the Carlsbad City Libraries. Which was the first location, and how have the locations changed or evolved over time?
The Cole Library was the first city library constructed in Carlsbad and it opened in November 1967. It is named after Georgina Cole, the library’s first director. Dove Library opened in 1999, and the Carlsbad City Library Learning Center opened in 2008. All of our libraries have evolved in many ways, mostly in the area of technology. In the early 2000s, there was a shift toward providing new digital resources and technology while still maintaining the more traditional services. The Cole Library was renovated in 2000 to update the interior and add dedicated space for our nationally renowned genealogy collection as well as the Carlsbad history room.
Tell us more about the recent renovations that were completed on the Carlsbad City Libraries this year. What sort of new amenities should the community be aware of?
The Georgina Cole Library and the Carlsbad City Library on Dove Ln. were both recently modernized to meet the changing needs of the community in today’s digital age. The Cole Library reopened on Feb. 27 and the Dove Library reopened on June 25. We knew that investing in our libraries today meant they would be relevant and well used for years to come.
Both of the libraries’ improvements include:
• Additional community gathering spaces
• Enhanced technology and Wi-Fi connectivity
• New carpet and paint
• New Friends of the Library bookstores
• Dedicated spaces for teens
• Improved service and access to information
• Collaborative study/meeting rooms with enhanced technology, available for reservations
Cole Library improvements include:
• Central service desk
• Fire sprinkler system
• Energy efficient lighting
• New elevator
Dove Library improvements include:
• Revitalized courtyard and new patio
• Expanded café with additional food and drink options (coming soon!)
• A new tech lab called the Exploration HUB that includes a versatile learning center with cutting edge technology
• Upgrades to the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium to improve access for disabled patrons, improve visibility to the stage, and upgrade the auditorium’s video production and other audio-visual equipment to digital technology
Every aspect of the improvements at both Dove and Cole is a result of intentional community engagement. Before we started designing these projects, we reached out to our residents to learn more about what they wanted. The results of that feedback were used to guide and prioritize the improvements. The improvements all reflect community input that we gathered through surveys, design workshops, and public meetings, along with trends in library usage including greater use of technology, comfortable seating, and more spaces for collaboration.
Carlsbad Libraries At-A-Glance
Branch Managers: Cole Library – Deputy Library Director Suzanne Smithson;
Dove Library – Deputy Library Director Diane Bednarski;
Library Learning Center – Principal Librarian Glynn Birdwell
Georgina Cole Library – 1250 Carlsbad Village Dr.;
Carlsbad City Library (Dove Library) – 1775 Dove Ln.;
Library Learning Center – 3368 Eureka Place
What sets the Carlsbad Library apart from other San Diego public libraries?
We have some wonderful public libraries in the region that we partner with on a regular basis, for example, pooling our resources to purchase materials together. But the range of programs offered at the Carlsbad libraries truly sets us apart from others. In any given month, you can experience our wildly popular programs for children and teens like Toddler Storytime and Teen Pizza & a Movie, or you can learn to read, research your family history, take in a concert from a well-known musician at the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium, and view the artwork of a world-renowned artist at the Cannon Art Gallery.
“My favorite new feature of the remodeled library is the clean, open, and bright atmosphere.” – Addison D.
Please tell us more about the types of programs and services you offer and the age ranges they serve.
The library offers a wide variety of programs and services for many different audiences. All of our programs center on creating opportunities for learning for all ages.
• Children: Children’s Storytimes, Summer Reading Program, The Homework Zone, special events
• Teens: Teen Movie, teen talent shows
• Adults: Book clubs, literacy programs, film and cinema series, genealogy
• Cultural Arts programs including exhibits and art-making activities
How is the library funded?
The library is funded through the City of Carlsbad, the State of California’s Literacy Program, grants and donations from Friends of the Library and the Carlsbad Library & Arts Foundation, and endowments.
Please tell us about your staff and what they bring to the library.
Our staff is a critical connection to the community that we serve. They are truly at the center of community learning for all ages and care about providing our residents with the best possible service. Many have specialized knowledge and experience to help patrons find just the right information, teach, create great experiences, and guide people to new discoveries. Our staff is dedicated to fostering a resourceful, resilient, and prospering community.
“I like the new furniture and layout. It is more organized and there’s more space.” – Eva B.
Is the library in need of volunteers? If so, how would one get involved?
We are always looking for volunteers. Whether it’s helping students with homework or delivering books to those who can’t get to the library, volunteers play an integral role in making our libraries a great place to learn, read, and connect with others. There are many ways to give back to the community through volunteering with our children and teen programs, special events, literacy programs, Homebound program, Friends of the Library bookstores and Friends of the Arts, and Carlsbad Library & Arts Foundation. More information about volunteer opportunities is available on our website.
How does the library stay connected to the community?
There are several important ways we stay connected to our community. One way we stay connected to the community is through consistent communications about our programs and services. We want to ensure that our patrons are aware of the programs and services we provide, and have committed to providing them with this information on a regular basis. We also connect with the community by seeking and listening to their feedback. Every two years, we conduct surveys that identify opportunities to better serve our community. Along those lines, if there is a service needed, we work to provide it for our patrons. Additionally, where feasible, we seek input from the community on any big projects, like the library renovations, to make sure we are making decisions that are in alignment with our patrons. Our staff also frequently attends events in the community including the farmers market and other events hosted by the City.
If you could grant the library one wish, what would it be?
My wish would be that every resident in Carlsbad discover what’s new at the libraries and all the great programs and services that are available in their backyard.
What is the most rewarding part about working at the Carlsbad Library?
The most rewarding part about this job is seeing our mission to create lifelong learners in action every day. It’s quite amazing to see young readers who have visited us since they were babies now participating in our Summer Reading Program, then eventually moving on to our teen programs. We see this same pattern with those enjoying our adult programs, returning season after season to enjoy our day-to-day services and special events. I feel so grateful to be part of that and know that we’re creating a place for the community to gather, meet, and do life together.
“I like the summer reading program. It is a great volunteer opportunity which encourages young people to read.” – Addison D.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time working at the library?
My favorite memories were the reopening ceremonies of Cole and Dove libraries. It was such a proud moment for the city, the library, cultural arts team, and the community. It took a tremendous amount of teamwork and patience from the community to get there, but I hope it was worth the wait.
We heard so much positive feedback from the community about the improvements and the event. One woman told our staff that her face hurt from smiling so much, because it was such a happy day.
What do you think the library adds to the community of Carlsbad?
We have a real opportunity in Carlsbad to help people of all ages continue learning and growing each and every day. Our programs contribute to the creation of a successful community, one that is resourceful and resilient.
If you had to describe the library in five words, what would you say?
Community, learning, engaging, evolving, leadership.