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La Jolla Library opens first-of-its-kind Idea Lab: Library to mark 120th anniversary with special events June 6

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San Diego Public Library supervising librarian Kelly Pepo, La Jolla Youth Services Librarian Dana Sanchez, Congress member Scott Peters and Friends of La Jolla Library president Linda Dowley with a congressional proclamation, presented May 25.
Ashley Mackin-Solomon

Do you know what a Roach Scope is? Presumably, most people didn’t until the grand opening of the La Jolla Library’s Idea Lab on May 25.

Designed to turn any smartphone with a camera into a microscope, the Roach Scope is a table-top device that can magnify cells pressed into a slide, or enlarge the texture of everyday (small) objects — all using a smartphone camera. And it’s just one of the many pieces of fun equipment the first-of-its-kind, open-to-the-public Idea Lab contains to engage citizen scientists.

Centrally located in what used to be the Library’s computer lab, the new space houses the Bio Lab, 3-D printing equipment, computers and meeting space. Featuring demos, hands-on experiments for guests to conduct, up-close looks at the equipment and more, the opening event doubled as a kick-off to the Library’s upcoming 120th anniversary on Thursday, June 6.

Noting that his first “elected” office in San Diego was to the Friends of La Jolla Library board, Congress member Scott Peters was at the opening and told attendees: “We love to see the innovation happening in libraries. There is some talk about the Internet making libraries obsolete, but that is absolutely not the case. This is where people can physically come and make knowledge known to them in new ways. Now we have this amazing Idea Lab to better support STEAM education for anyone who visits. This is a reflection of the bio-tech industry in La Jolla and makes emerging technology accessible to anybody and I think that is great. It’s what the library is all about.”

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Bio Lab equipment at the La Jolla Library Idea Lab
Ashley Mackin-Solomon

The 3-D printing and Bio Lab equipment has been contained in a smaller room since 2015, but due to demand and increasing number of workshops, “we quickly outgrew that space” said Youth Services librarian Dana Sanchez. “We repurposed our lovely computer lab ... these (new) computers have software on them to edit the photos and videos digitized upstairs in our Memory Lab (which takes data from out-of-date formats such as floppy disks and converts them to modern data files). We encourage you to use this space to create, innovate, invent and explore.”

The Idea Lab is open any time there are volunteers on hand, during library hours.

120th Anniversary Event

With the Idea Lab up and running, the Friends of La Jolla Library is looking ahead to the 120th anniversary celebration with a day-full of events beginning at 10 a.m. June 6. Peters gave the Friends board an early proclamation to mark the occasion stating: “We’re very proud of this institution.”

The Library Association of La Jolla formed in 1899 with philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps as its first president, in what is now the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. It was moved to its Draper Avenue home in 1988, thanks in part to the generosity of Florence Riford; and expanded in 2004, funded by Joan and Irwin Jacobs and other donors.

“Our library is such a resource for our community and we want to showcase that with this anniversary event,” said Friends of La Jolla Library president Linda Dowley. “It’s more than a collection of books, it’s a collection of lifelong learning resources. It connects the community and provides opportunities for innovation and discovery.”

The 10 a.m. Children’s Storytime will feature a “Junior Detective” theme and participants will have to solve the mystery: “Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?” (To crack the case, kids will go on a scavenger hunt to find the letters of the name of the guilty party. You may be shocked at the familiar face involved!)

For slightly older patrons, there will be a library-wide Scavenger Hunt for clues to solve the “Do You Know La Jolla?” trivia game. Quiz sheets will be available in the lobby 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and patrons can find the answers in various rooms of the library. Those who complete the hunt and solve the puzzle can turn in their quiz sheets to be entered in a prize drawing. The winner’s name will be drawn after June 6.

The main event is the member’s-only “Caper on Draper” at 6:30 p.m. (Anyone who donates $10 to the Library until the event can become a member.) A priceless manuscript has been stolen and patrons must roam the Library looking for famous La Jollans such as Raymond Chandler, Dr. Seuss, Sally Ride, Ellen Browning Scripps and Jonas Salk (played by actors from the La Jolla Theatre Ensemble) to ask questions and solve the case. The culprit will be revealed at an 8 p.m. reception.

Event organizer Sue Wagener said the events are open to the community because “we want to invite everyone to see everything we have to offer and explore.”

Dowley added of the 120 years of service: “Having a library in any community is such an opportunity for lifelong learning. We have books, audiobooks, videos ... opening up a world of possibilities that people might not have the resources to pay for ... allowing everyone to engage in resources from around the world.”