Book lovers now have another place to browse as the library at Palomar College’s Escondido Education Center has reopened after being closed for more than two years due to a remodeling project and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The college library provides limited services to the public on the east end of town, an option missed since a branch of the Escondido Public Library on East Valley Parkway closed in 2011 due to budget constraints. The city’s branch library was just a few blocks from the college campus on East Valley Parkway and Midway Drive.
The college’s Ernest J. Allen Library, named for a deceased dairy farmer whose family left the college a $225,000 bequest, closed in the fall of 2019 for remodeling with plans to reopen in March 2020, said Alexandra Doyle Bauer, librarian for the Escondido campus. However, the pandemic struck before that could happen and the library remained closed until February of this year.
The college library’s primary focus is serving students, Doyle Bauer said, but the public can borrow books, CDs and DVDs, use one of the library’s public computers, or print black-and-white copies for 10 cents a page. Access to digital materials, such as e-books, is reserved for students, she said.
Anyone over the age of 18 with a photo ID can get a free library card to borrow materials from the university library.
The 2,472-square-foot college library includes a 26-computer classroom where Palomar College students learn research skills and a small seating area with tables and chairs for the public.
In a partnership with the City of Escondido, the City Library Endowment provided $25,000 for new furniture and a new information desk acquired during the recent remodeling project.
While the library’s collection focuses on textbooks and books that support the college curriculum, Doyle Bauer said the library also has general books and films available for loan. Library patrons can go online or call to request a book housed in one of the college’s four libraries in San Marcos, Escondido, Rancho Bernardo or Fallbrook and have it shipped free of charge to their branch of choice for pickup.
The library still has COVID-19 protocols in place, so indoor staff and visitors are required to wear masks, observe social distancing, provide proof of vaccinations, and check-in using a daily health screening app to use the college’s facilities. For now, the college expects those rules to remain in effect for the duration of the current semester, which ends in May, officials said.
Doyle Bauer said one of the strengths of the college library is its ease of access for Escondido residents, particularly those east of the city.
“We’re right on the corner in the middle of town,” she said.
The Palomar College Library is open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
“We’re open, we’re here, we’re happy to help (the public) get materials from our collection that they might like,” said Doyle Bauer.
Jack Anderson, executive chairman of the Escondido Library Foundation, said the remodeled library “turned out well.” He said it’s important to have library services in this part of town because seniors and members of the Latino community may not be able to easily get to the Municipal Library on Kalmia Street in downtown Escondido.
The college library branch, he said, will primarily serve adults and youth.
The Foundation’s role is to provide amenities that might not otherwise be funded, such as: For example, the furniture for the college library or a large mural recently completed on the outside wall of the city library, Anderson said.
“Our foundation has few resources; We’re trying to make the biggest impact possible, and this (the college library donation) was one way to do that. We’re very happy,” he said.