La Jolla Library to unveil expanded biology lab in April


The La Jolla Riford Library is — once again — getting a new lab to bring STEAM-related activities to the public. By the end of April, the former computer lab will be repurposed to house the biology and 3-D printing technology that currently operates out of a room the size of a “storage closet.” The 25 computers have been cleared out, and the new equipment will go in, in the coming weeks.

Branch manager Shaun Briley explained: “The biology (and 3-D printing) lab is currently in a storage closet. We’ve been presenting one to two lab workshops a month and they all fill up ... it’s very popular programming. We’re looking to expand on that and add some new programming in a new space.”

The new lab will house the biology lab and 3-D printing equipment, and iMac computers preloaded with software, such as PhotoShop that complements the offerings of the Memory Lab, which takes obsolete data storage formats, such as floppy disks, and digitizes its contents. “That is a great room, with glass on two sides that you pass wherever you go in the library. It’s a great place to showcase the work we’re doing here so other people can get involved,” Briley said.

The now-emptied computer lab was built in the 1980s or 1990s, fitted with 25 computers for public use during library hours. “We surveyed it to find we only have five or six people (using the computer room) at any given time because we have WiFi in the building now,” Briley explained. “Those who used to have restricted access to the Internet now can access technology through cell phones. It seemed like a waste to have a big room with 25 computers, when only a quarter were being used.” (Public computers will continue to be available in the lobby.)

As for the “storage closet” that once housed the bio lab, Briley said: “We have so many groups that meet here now — and that’s wonderful and what we want to be — so we can always use space, and the building is not getting any bigger, so that room is going to be an extra meeting room.”

Funding for the new equipment comes in part from a grant from the Fleet Foundation Fund. A letter announcing the grant reads: “We are pleased to award the La Jolla Riford Library a grant of $5,000 at the request of the Fleet family for the STEAM program in the lab.”

The opening will be in mid- or late-April, and feature keynote events to celebrate.

“When we open this lab,” Briley said, “it will be the 30th anniversary of this building, the second anniversary of the Memory Lab, and 120 years of having a public library in La Jolla.”

La Jolla Riford Library is at 7555 Draper Ave. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 12:30-5 p.m. Sunday. (858) 552-1657.