In the early morning of Saturday, January 26, the communities of Hillcrest and Mission Hills came to life as families and children lined Washington Street to celebrate a historic event in San Diego.
They were there to participate in the much-anticipated grand opening of the Mission Hills-Hillcrest Harley & Bessie Knox Branch Library, which was built thanks to $10 million in grant funding from the Hervey family and Donna Knox Sefton family, fund holders at The San Diego Foundation.
Residents and neighbors stood shoulder-to-shoulder passing hundreds of books from the old library to the new library just six blocks away. This symbolic gesture was a way to celebrate new beginnings, but it also displayed the deep connection people in the community have with the local library.
Just walking down Washington Street, you could overhear parents sharing stories with their children as the Mark Twain and Charles Dickens books they passed conjured up memories of their early childhood.
When the final book was passed, the 2,000 residents of Mission Hills and Hillcrest joined together at the entrance of the new library to celebrate the official ribbon cutting.
State and local leaders, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Congresswoman Susan Davis, Assemblymember Todd Gloria, Councilmember Chris Ward and Jay Hill of the San Diego Public Library Foundation all shared remarks about how important this project was for the community members and greater San Diego region.
“For decades, the Hervey family and Donna Knox Sefton family have touched the lives of countless San Diegans through their philanthropy at The San Diego Foundation,” shared Connie Matsui, Interim President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation, during her speech to the crowd. “Today, thanks to their generosity, as well as a strong partnership between philanthropy and the public sector, Mission Hills and Hillcrest residents have a vibrant new library and community space where they can gather, learn and engage with one another.”
As the anticipation reached its peak, Connie joined the other leaders in cutting the ribbon and letting the thousands in attendance take their first look at the new space.
The new Mission Hills-Hillcrest Harley & Bessie Knox Branch Library is a state-of-the-art facility that is four times larger than the previous branch and meets LEED Gold standards. It includes underground parking, a large community room to support events and programming for the library, and a children’s area that has its own computer lab and themed storytime area.
In addition, there are dedicated spaces for teenagers, study rooms, adult computer labs, and even an “idea lab” with 3D printers and other technology.
The new library will serve as the central gathering place and educational hub of the community for years to come.
Learn more about other impactful philanthropists like the Hervey family and Donna Knox Sefton family.