Rampant wildfires destroyed much of rural San Diego County in 2003, but firefighters saved historic downtown Julian, including the Julian Branch Library then under construction. In spite of the fires, the library was completed on schedule.
In this remote mountain community of 6000, roads are sometimes impassable. There is no cable service, no movie theatre, nor video rental outlet. Luckily, the new Julian Library now gives this isolated community a window on the world.
Julian residents use the Julian library’s video collection for both educational videos and feature films. In addition, the library’s 20 public-use computers provide students and residents access to a wide range of database resources available from the San Diego County Library network via the Internet.
At approximately 10,000 square feet, the Julian Branch is not the largest library in the state, but, says Marilyn Crouch, retired director of the San Diego County Library, of which Julian is a part, “it has a huge impact on both library services and the lives of the residents of Julian,” sixty percent of whom hold library cards. Located adjacent to the Julian elementary, middle, and high schools, the Julian Branch is a joint-use library with a homework center for the community’s students who previously had to use an un-staffed school library with only 2,000 volumes. Their new public library can house over 20,000 volumes and will let Julian’s youth do schoolwork without traveling to the nearest regional library over 55 miles away.
The new public library branch also offers study rooms, a community meeting room, and a Friends of the Library Bookstore.
Julian is an historic Gold Rush-era community, where many of the buildings still look as if they were built in the 1860’s. The new Julian Branch, located in Julian’s commercial center, reflects the historical, rural, and architectural elements of other buildings in the vicinity, including the 1888 schoolhouse in which the library was formerly housed. In fact, the new library’s cupola is an exact replica of the schoolhouse’s, providing a visual recollection of the library’s former home.
The Julian Branch is unique in other ways. It was among the first group of libraries funded from the California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 2000 (Bond Act of 2000) and was the first project to break ground. In September 2004 the Julian Branch Library became the first Bond Act-funded library in the state to open its doors to the public.