Irwin, Joan Jacobs on hand for groundbreaking at downtown library

Work began Wednesday on a $185 million new central library in downtown San Diego’s East Village.

The library, a dream of civic leaders for almost two decades, is scheduled to open in July 2013.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the countless people who have spent so much time and energy on making sure we arrived at this day,’' San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said. “Our work will pay dividends for future generations of San Diegans.”

The mayor was joined by other elected officials, library supporters and donors at a morning groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future library to mark the start of construction.

Also attending was Irwin Jacobs, the co-founder and former chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc., and his wife, Joan, who contributed $20 million for the library.

“Joan and I are very pleased to join with so many others in our community to finally reach this very special day,” Jacobs said. “We look forward to the library becoming a prime focus within the region for civic engagement, educational activities and pursuit of knowledge in its ever-expanding forms.”

The design for the 295,000-square foot library, at 330 Park Blvd., features a nine-story, dome-topped structure with an auditorium, meeting spaces, sculpture garden, outdoor cafe, underground parking and a charter high school that will house about 400 students.

To date, $152.4 million of the $184.9 million cost of the library has been identified. That leaves $32.5 million that the San Diego Public Library Foundation must raise by January 2012 to complete the project.