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One Book, One San Diego

San Diego Public Library
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Problem Statement

The program provides a means by which the entire City can read together, explore a topic of significance to its members and to the world around us, and engage in a common activity that promotes understanding of others.


The media station KPBS and San Diego Public Library partner in One Book, One San Diego, an annual, community-wide reading initiative designed to educate and enlighten on topics and themes of concern to the San Diego community, while promoting reading as a source of pleasure and enrichment. The campaign is similar to some found in other cities, however with the distinction of having a public television/ radio station join forces with a public library system. This joint effort expands the campaign and creates a stronger impact and connection with the community.

A novel approach is taken to further engage the community. The book is selected by an online community vote after an advisory committee has narrowed down the possibility to three books. Additional partners participate in the initiative, depending on the topic. San Diego State University is an on-going partner as are community colleges, public schools and book stores. Others have included the Old Globe Theater and the Media Arts Center, for example. This year, the International Rescue Committee joined because the topic relates to their mission.


The excitement about the One Book, One San Diego program builds, starting with the City Proclamation, the kick-off reception sponsored by the San Diego Library Foundation, and the program attended by as many as 500 attendees, and the various programs that take place at local libraries, bookstores, colleges, schools and community venues. Material and activities have included book discussions at libraries, coverage of the topics through presentation of films and lectures via television, radio, and the Web. Book discussion kits have been provided to community members and groups. A children’s book has been selected over the past few years and has been featured in the Friends of the Library’s San Diego Public School Essay Contest. Over 4,000 participants each year have contributed their ideas, have held conversations, and they have expressed their love of reading through these programs. The programs themselves have been diverse - from a hip hop performance about an American child of Iranian and Guatemalan immigrants, to author talks, films about soccer, a lecture on “The Shahnameh – the Persian Book of Kings, and digital media directed by students regarding their own immigrant stories. These are all examples of the programs that weave the themes of this year’s book, Outcasts United.