Visit the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla and you’ll find yourself moving through a warm, polished, light-infused world where beautiful dreams are sustained. Last weekend I stepped through the library’s doors and was amazed by what I discovered.
The Athenaeum is home to a large, regionally important collection of books and media concerning music and art, and a permanent collection of artwork. It is a repository for beauty that is timeless. The library is refined and welcoming, like a fine museum.
Each quiet room is a refuge for the contemplative mind. And a richly furnished temple for the heart. And a universe brimming with inspiration and creativity to nourish the human spirit.
The Athenaeum is one of only 16 nonprofit membership libraries in the United States. As you might imagine, it has a very unique history.
In 1894 a group of six women came together to create the La Jolla Reading Club. Five years later a cottage-like Reading Room was built at the corner of Wall Street and Girard Avenue. The most notable founding member, the first president of the Library Association of La Jolla, was wealthy newspaper publisher, philanthropist and La Jolla resident Ellen Browning Scripps.
In 1921 a larger Spanish Renaissance-style building replaced the Reading Room. The elegant new structure was designed by famous architect William Templeton Johnson, who also designed the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History. Much of the funding for the new building came from Scripps. Kate Sessions, the horticulturist often referred to as the Mother of Balboa Park, planted an outside garden.
In 1957 the library opened the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room with its striking rotunda, designed by artist and architect William Lumpkins.
In subsequent years additional expansions were made, which allowed for the founding of the Athenaeum’s School of the Arts. Today the expansive library hosts art exhibitions, galas and musical concerts throughout the year.
How does one describe the rare beauty of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library?
Here are a few photos…
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A very exciting and historic event took place this morning in Mission Hills! Hundreds of people lined the West Washington Street sidewalk to pass books from the old, now closed Mission Hills Branch Library to the beautiful, larger, brand new Mission Hills-Hillcrest/Harley & Bessie Knox Library!
The final 200 books from the old branch library were transferred along the sidewalk, hand-to-hand, by volunteer participants. Some were dressed as favorite book characters. All eyes glanced at the passing titles, and many smiles resulted!
Once every book had been transported to its new home, a Grand Opening ceremony was held in front of the new Mission Hills-Hillcrest Branch Library. When the speeches were complete, community members streamed into the new building!
The very last book to be passed was The Hobbit. It was selected in a poll to make the fantastic journey.
And onward into the future we go!
“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!”
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If you live in Mission Hills or Hillcrest, or simply love the San Diego Public Library , you have the opportunity to take part in a unique and historic ceremony!
On February 26, 2019, members of the community will participate in a unique “Book Pass” to celebrate the grand opening of the new Mission Hills-Hillcrest/Harley & Bessie Knox Branch Library!
Sign up for this event and you’ll be one of many who line the West Washington Street sidewalk symbolically passing a few books from the old branch library to the beautiful, much larger new building!
According to the website: “We will line streets from the current library to the new location to pass along select books as part of a grand opening party. Each book passer will receive a free scarf and other promotional items to commemorate this historic day. The Book Pass will take place from 9 to 10 am. Registration, Donuts, & Coffee, will be at 8:00 am at the new library, 215 West Washington Street.”