Read, Learn, Engage

Residents of Del Mar and Solana Beach greatly value the community services offered by the local libraries. Each library serves as a community and cultural center, inspiring and educating the public about art, literature, music, science, and more – connecting people, ideas, and information. We speak with Del Mar Branch Manager Polly Cipparrone and Assistant Branch Manager Patricia Selkowitz and Solana Beach Library Branch Manager Patricia Tirona about the ways the libraries foster a rich learning environment for the communities of Del Mar and Solana Beach.

Q&A with Polly Cipparrone, Del Mar Branch Manager
and Patricia Selkowitz, Assistant Branch Manager


Please tell us about the history behind the Del Mar Library.
The library was originally built as St. James Catholic Church in 1914 and then passed through a series of ownerships and uses including two restaurants, an arts school, and an office building. In 1996, with the generous help of donations from local residents, the City of Del Mar bought the building and converted it into a library.

Which specific areas does the library serve?
The Del Mar Library serves the residents of Del Mar and residents of north coastal San Diego County, primarily in the 92014 and 92130 zip codes.

What are your roles as branch manager and assistant branch manager?
Patricia Selkowitz: My job is more of the technical side of the branch. I make sure that customer requests are filled and that deliveries are completed. I also ensure that the doors are open and that customer service is at the highest level possible. I most enjoy participating in branch programming, storytimes, and our book clubs.

Polly Cipparrone: My job is to oversee the branch, build community relationships and partnerships, develop branch programs and attendance, and ensure that branch programs and services are reflective of community needs and interests. I most enjoy working with our customers and partners. I have really enjoyed getting to know this community.

How has the library changed or evolved over time?
When the library opened in the old St. James church building in 1996, the library’s space dramatically increased. Changes over the years have included the creation of kids and teens areas, the creation of a community room from the former patio, and an interior remodel over a year ago that greatly maximized the interior space for the public by reducing the size of the customer service desk, placing the library stacks onto movable book cases, adding display furniture, and adding new comfortable reading furniture in order to promote a light, bright, welcoming environment and enable customers to appreciate a view of the ocean from the library.


What sets the Del Mar Library apart from other San Diego public libraries?
The age of this library building. Both the Del Mar Library and its building (the former St. James church) celebrated their 100th anniversaries last year. In particular, the Del Mar Library building is one of nine historic buildings in Del Mar. Also, and maybe this is biased, but I think there is something to be said for the history of this building. From the church to the Albatross Restaurant and other miscellaneous businesses previously held in the building, and now a library for the last 19 years, customers frequently comment on the warm feel of this branch.

Please tell us about the types of programs and services the library offers. Are there any specific programs or classes for children, teens, and/or adults?
We offer programs for all ages including yoga, storytimes (toddler, preschool, baby, pajama, Hebrew/English bilingual, Spanish/English bilingual, kids read to dogs/Love on a Leash), investment club, book clubs (book talks, print to movies, monthly book discussion), conversational Spanish class, knitting circle, technology help appointments, afterschool crafts and science activities for kids, homework helpers, Local Author Showcase, and chess club. Services include print and online magazines/newspapers, audio CDs, and DVDs.

Does the library offer any services that the community might not be aware of or would greatly benefit from?
Services we offer include a community room that can be reserved by nonprofits for meetings, public-use Internet access computers and printing, and free Wi-Fi. Although we have offered free technology help appointments for some time, we now offer these four days a week in 30-minute individual sessions and for most personal devices (e.g. iPods, iPads, PCs, laptops, cell phones, Kindles). Customers can call the branch to schedule an appointment.

How is the library funded?
The Del Mar Library is a part of the San Diego County Library (SDCL) system, which is funded through San Diego County resident tax dollars. The Del Mar Library building is owned and maintained by the City of Del Mar. The Friends of the Del Mar Library raise funds through an ongoing booksale in order to purchase new library materials, sponsor library programs, and fund renovations to the library. Also, the library has been the recipient of generous grant-funded programs and renovations from San Diego County and community partners such as the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the Del Mar Foundation, the Del Mar Farmers Market, and the Del Mar Village Association.

Please tell us about your staff and what they bring to the library.
Polly Cipparrone, Branch Manager: She has the ability to develop new programming and strengthen community and city relationships. She also has a great sense of humor.
Patricia Selkowitz, Assistant Branch Manager: She is a voracious reader and talented book talker. Maintains strong relationships with customers.
Jennifer Runge, Youth Services Librarian: Has a lot of enthusiasm and energy for children and children’s programming. She has a following for her storytimes.
Linda Farmer, Library Technician I: She is the backbone of the branch library’s staff – the heart and constant for all of us.
Thomas Pierce, Library Technician II: He is the branch technology guru, both a patient and talented instructor.


What does the library’s collection consist of?
Library materials in many formats, including DVDs, CDs, online, digital books and magazines (e.g. audio, eBooks), and print. Also, the Del Mar Library houses City of Del Mar and County of San Diego documents. Del Mar Television recordings of City Council and Committee meetings are archived here. The library also houses a large collection of local history resources, including the Del Mar Historical Society’s oral history recordings.

Is the library in need of volunteers?
Volunteers are the heroes of the library. The Del Mar Library is always looking for new volunteers. We try to match library needs with the interests and talents of our volunteers. People who are interested in volunteering should call the library at 858-755-1666.

How does the library stay connected to the community?
We stay connected through our staff’s participation at the City of Del Mar’s quarterly nonprofit meeting, by attending City Council meetings, providing outreach to local schools, partnering with local organizations, participating in local events such as the Del Mar Art Stroll, and meeting and talking with community members and customers.

If you could grant the library one wish, what would it be?
That all Del Sol Magazine readers would have a San Diego County Library (SDCL) library card and come visit the Del Mar Library.

Do you have any upcoming events in March/April that you would like to share with our readers?
On April 30, the library will celebrate our annual signature event, Del Mar Library Rose Weekend. This is where the Del Mar Library hosts the Del Mar Rose Society’s Rose Show. On Friday, May 1 the library hosts a concert.

What is the most rewarding part about working with the library?
Storytimes, getting the children excited about books and reading, and building relationships with the customers and community.


Del Mar Library

Branch Manager: Polly Cipparrone
Phone: 858-755-1666


Polly Cipparrone, Branch Manager

Community: Del Mar Heights
Education: BA Politics and Government, M.S.L.S. (Library Science)
Family: Married, proud aunt of two nephews
Hobbies and Interests: Reading, watching movies, gardening (native plants)
Favorite Library Program: Local Author Showcase


Patricia Selkowitz, Assistant Branch Manager

Community: Del Mar
Education: AA History
Family: Single, proud aunt of three nieces and two nephews!
Hobbies and Interests: Reading, watching movies, swimming, cat lover
Favorite Library Program: Book Talks and Treats book club and Pajama Storytime

Del Mar Library 2014 Quick Facts

Circulation: 168,161
Patron Visits: 80,837
Internet Signups: 20,317
Program Attendance: 9,835
Juvenile Attendance: 7,172



Q&A with Patricia Tirona, Solana Beach Library Branch Manager

Please tell us about the history behind the Solana Beach Library branch.
In June 1925, Ira Earl Conner opened the first Solana Beach County Library in his grocery store. For 20 years the library remained in his store until he sold the store in January 1946. It was located 100 feet south of Plaza St. on Highway 101 and the building is still in use.

The library was moved to the Colony Shop on Highway 101 for about one year and then to a variety store, where it was located until September 1948. From early County Library correspondence, it appears to have moved into the Jack and Jill Shop, presumably on Highway 101, but was only there until July 1949, when the owner of the store asked that the library be removed. It reopened in June 1950 at the Weaving Studio of Mrs. May Shelton St. John. She sold the store in July 1952. There was difficulty finding a place for the library then as none of the businesses would take it. Finally Mrs. Joseph C. Scialdo took it into her home at the north end of Solana Beach in August 1952, where it remained for almost a year.

At this time, various groups were trying to obtain a more permanent location in Solana Beach. They wrote to the San Diego County library and the County Supervisors. Finally through the efforts of the Solana Beach Women’s Civic Club and the County librarian, a lease was obtained at 145 S. Highway 101. The library was a little over 1,000 square feet and opened in October 1953.

The library moved into one shop area in 1968. During the first month there were no shelves, the books were in boxes in the center of the library, and the library had a circulation of 1,200 books in the first month. As the population in Solana Beach increased, the circulation increased and the library became inadequate. The adjoining shop became available and the library expanded into this area for the children’s collection.

In March 1983, the Friends of the Solana Beach library was formed. They became very active in trying to increase the library size and find a new location. New space was found in the Lomas Santa Fe shopping center. The library moved into a 3,800-square-foot space in October 1983.

In 1995, the Solana Beach City Council appointed Councilmembers Joe Kellejian and Marion Dodson as a subcommittee to work toward a new library location for Solana Beach Library. Funding was obtained from the State of California, the City of Solana Beach, the County of San Diego, the San Dieguito Union High School District, and Friends of the Solana Beach Library. In June 2000, a contract was awarded for a 10,500-square-foot library, located at Earl Warren Middle School. It is a shared-use library between the San Diego County Library and the San Dieguito Union High School District. The library was dedicated June 22, 2001 and opened its doors for use on July 5, 2001.


Which specific areas does the library serve?
It serves the entire community of Solana Beach, in addition to the neighboring communities. SDCL provides library cards for free for California residents and $5 for out of state patrons who may live anywhere in the world. Government issued identification is required.

What is your role as branch manager?
The branch manager oversees the daily operations of the branch in conjunction with the assistant branch manager. The branch manager is also responsible for implementing the SDCL’s strategic plan as it applies to the branch, ensuring that the branch is meeting the mission of SDCL: inform, educate, inspire, and entertain. In addition to the general duties of a librarian, the branch manager manages outreach programs for the county library, including the planning, implementation, and evaluation of services to special groups. The branch manager participates in library committees and at professional meetings, workshops, and conferences, promotes the library within the community, develops partnerships within the community, tries to determine how the library can serve its specific community to the best of its available resources, and acts on those outcomes.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love working with our library community, which includes the students, their families, and the administration at the school. As a shared use library, we have a larger population of middle school student patrons than the average public library, hence we have more opportunities to serve them. At this age they still retain a semblance of childlike innocence. This partnership with the school gives us an opportunity to make a difference in their lives. For example, many of the students spend their lunches and several hours after school here. We want to make the library a comfortable, welcoming, and nurturing environment for them. They are our future library users. In addition, the Solana Beach library community is supportive, patient, and understanding about this partnership, and I have had many patrons express their joy in watching the students enjoy their time here. The staff wants to make it a place where people want to come, where “everyone knows your name.” I love to see first-time library users delight in all the resources and activities we provide.

How has the library changed or evolved over time?
I have been here since the library opened in July 2001. We were part of the evolution of the library as a community center. We started out with poetry club and music appreciation, and now we have multiple programs each day designed for all ages. The entry of electronic books, both audiobook and eBook, have required changes in the library system’s approach to developing the collection, but we haven’t cut out books, we have just added the eLibrary format to our collection. With the increase in technology, staff is now available for helping with questions on the floor, greeting patrons, hosting programs, and spending more time in the community.

What sets the Solana Beach Library apart from other San Diego public libraries?
We are the first of two shared use libraries in San Diego County Library System. Benefits include longer hours of operation to accommodate the school’s opening hours Monday through Friday as we open earlier than any other library in the public sector when school is in session. We close later than any school library. The school has access to the complete 33 branch collection, rather than a finite collection found in a school library, and the community is served by a larger staff than a school library. One of the missions of the library is to reach out to the youth of the community, and being part of a middle school offers a wealth of opportunities for us to serve them and their families.


Please tell us about the types of programs and services you offer. Are there any specific programs or classes for children, teens, and/or adults?
For adults, we offer classes such as Spanish and knitting, workshops, concerts, and Bridge Club meetings. We also have daily afterschool activities for the students such as crafts, movies, cartoons, and Bridge for Teens. We offer weekly storytimes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and Mother Goose visits on Thursday mornings. Our Tuesday Library Chats address different themes focusing on improving the quality of your life. We also offer citizenship and English Conversation Café classes. The County has just launched a new program as well called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. Studies show that children who are read to improve their language skills, listening skills, and attention spans. We invite all families with children who are not yet in kindergarten to come in and get a reading log! Prizes will be awarded to those children who participate.

Does the library offer any services that the community might not be aware of or would greatly benefit from?
With the advance of eBooks library patrons may not know that they can check eBooks out from library for free.

Our membership in two outside consortiums, the Circuit and Link+, also give patrons access to millions of books throughout California and Nevada. If you can’t find the book at our library, chances are you can find it in either the Circuit or Link+ systems.

How is the library funded?
Through property taxes and supervised by the County Board of Supervisors.

Please tell us about your staff and what they bring to the library.
Every staff member has their special skills and strengths, and they bring so much to our library. Technician Mim Haug is our publicity person who has a knack for spicing up our promotional material. She also performs outreach to the local senior center and La Vida del Mar. Technician Kaye Colwell is our technical services guru – her attention to detail keeps us all on our toes. Technician Adela Guerrero has a personal touch with our local La Colonia Eden Gardens customer base. Assistant Branch Manager Joani Kerr is our library ambassador throughout the community, and has been known to ask people in line at local stores if they have a library card. Youth Librarian Renee Hanson focuses on the middle schoolers, is a liaison to the school, and is known for her gentle nature. Our newest addition, Jorgina Soto, is our children’s librarian and hosts two storytimes per week. She comes to us with a long tenure at SDCL and will be a great asset to the library. Marci Barcezwski is our page, who keeps our books on the shelves. She has been with SDCL for over 25 years. Our dedicated volunteers in the bookstore are fantastic. They staff the bookstore six days a week, help raise revenue, sort donations, and work in the library itself. They average at least 230 hours per month, not including student workers.

What does the library’s collection consist of?
With a library card students and the community can access our resources while at the library or at home via the San Diego County Library’s website, Resources include books, large print books, books on CDs, music CDs, entertainment and documentary DVDs, magazines, downloadable audio books and eBooks, homework help, Medline and other online sources, access to two library consortiums outside of the County collection, the Circuit and Link +. Link + expands our borrowing capacity to encompass public libraries across California and Nevada.

Is the library in need of volunteers?
Yes, we would love to have more volunteers!

How can one go about volunteering or finding out about volunteer work?
Come in and ask to speak to a volunteer coordinator or go to During the summer we expand our Service Learning program for teens. Also, the Friends of the Solana Beach Library is our major volunteer organization which supports the library. They offer opportunities in the bookstore. The Friends support the library financially, and allow us to provide a special library collection called Friends Express, and they also financially support our many programs. The library itself also welcomes volunteers to help in the library with our various clerical tasks that are necessary to keep the items on the shelves and the hold items ready for pick-up. Just come on in and talk to us!

How does the library stay connected to the community?
We strive to connect with the community, and our major approach is to go out to the organizations within our community. Staff represents the library at meetings such as the Solana Beach City Council, Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce, Solana Beach School District, La Colonia de Eden Gardens Foundation, local preschools, Head Start, and more. We are always seeking opportunities to expand the library’s reach into the community. In addition, we have a great working relationship with Earl Warren Middle School administration and the PTSA. We have a lot to offer and we want to get the word out.

If you could grant the library one wish, what would it be?
That every resident of Solana Beach get a library card, use it to check out books, attend a program, and access our computers.

Do you have any upcoming events in March/April that you would like to share with our readers?
Tuesday Library Chats will present Maximizing Your Brain’s Health on Tuesday, March 17 at 6:30 p.m. and Senior Life Transitions on April 21 at 6:30 p.m. We will have our Día de los Niños celebration on Tuesday, April 21 at 6 p.m. Día is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. Gaston’s Puppet Show will be here and all children will receive a brand new book of their choosing along with some tasty refreshments.


Solana Beach Library

Branch Manager: Patricia Tirona
Phone: 858-755-1440

Patricia Tirona, Branch Manager

Community: Solana Beach
Education: Masters in Library Science
Family: Three adult children, one grandchild
Hobbies and Interests: Crocheting, knitting, walking the beach, cycling for recreation, exercising at the gym
Favorite Library Program: Read for Wags

Solana Beach Library 2014 Quick Facts

Circulation: 312,465
Patron Visits: 203,308
Internet Signups: 18,616
Program Attendance: 18,315
Juvenile Attendance: 9,238