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Digital Cinema Showcase

San Diego Public Library
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Problem Statement

The challenge for the San Diego Public Library (SDPL) was to develop an efficient and economical infrastructure for digital film formats that would allow the Central Library to easily show rare, independent, and foreign features, documentaries, and Internet film resources for free to the community.


Digital Cinema Showcase allows the Library to download the latest independent, documentaries and foreign movies for free community screenings using new technologies and equipment from Swank Motion Pictures. This project was made possible with funding by the Library and Services Technology Act (LSTA), which the California State Library (CSL) administers in California. The LSTA grant covered the equipment, infrastructure, content and staff training necessary to bring this project to fruition.

The Library partnered on this project with the Media Arts Center San Diego, a community-based organization that promotes access to film and video as tools for community self-expression and social change and supports the professional development of media artists. This partnership allows the Library to show films that are more reflective of the local community and address its diverse perspectives.


The Digital Cinema Showcase has served as a statewide model for other libraries. It has strengthened SDPL as a technology hub for the city and its surrounding communities. It has also broadened the scope of library services by providing library patrons with a convenient, timely and cost-effective venue for screenings of quality educational and exhibition films. SDPL’s Central Library serves downtown San Diego and adjacent communities that comprise a rich cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic diversity of residents, many of whom are recent immigrants or political refugees to the area, or who are military families, retirees or professionals living in the city’s central district, or who are single parents, or families earning poverty level wages, or homeless seeking resources, or people who are currently disengaged with society. The Digital Cinema Showcase appeals to this tremendous diversity and their extensive social and educational needs. It has become an integral bridge between the varied populations, encouraging attendees to gather together for after-screening dialogues, and introducing or supporting their use of the library’s extensive resources and services.