Urban Player Award 2014

July 22nd, 2014



Contact:  Robert Shalett                                                                                                For Immediate Release

Director of Communications                                                                                  July 22, 2014

rshalett@urbanlibraries.org 202.365.0273

Joan and Irwin Jacobs Named ULC's 2014 Urban Players

Champions of the New San Diego Central Library

July 22, 2014 (CHICAGO) – Joan and Irwin Jacobs, philanthropists and civic leaders have received the Urban Libraries Council’s 2014 Urban Player Award in recognition of their instrumental support and advocacy that propelled construction of the new San Diego Central Library, enabling it to open in September 2013  debt-free, with no City bonds, general fund dollars or new taxes.  In total, the Jacobs contributed $30 million to the $185 million project and leveraged an additional $35 million in contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations.

Each year, the Urban Player Award is presented to an individual who stands out as a strong and effective advocate for essential leadership role of public libraries in local communities. The Urban Player Award was established in 2001 to honor Seattle civic leader and former chair of ULC’s Executive Board, Betty Jane Narver.

As founder of the mobile technology leader Qualcomm, Dr. Jacobs understands the strong tie between technology, education, and libraries. Committed philanthropists, the Jacobs tirelessly raised funds for the Library, met with community leaders including the mayor, encouraged giving from other philanthropists, and made a series of donations to see the construction through.  In effect, the Jacobs created a new philanthropic culture for the San Diego Public Library – over 3,000 individual donors made gifts to the Library.

“Joan and Irwin Jacobs’ vision and commitment to the Library transformed a stalled civic dream into an amazing new center for literacy and learning that is the pride of San Diego,” San Diego Public Library Foundation CEO Jay Hill. “The Jacobs led every step of the way, creating a culture of philanthropy and building the project's credibility and confidence among elected leaders and private donors. This is just the latest of numerous projects and programs which, due to the Joan and Irwin’s leadership, have transformed our community. We are enormously grateful.”

Since September 2013, library visits have increased more than 100 percent, circulation has increased over 90 percent, and attendance at adult and children’s programs have increased 300 percent. As a result, the library has increased hours of operation.

“The Jacobs show what a big difference community engagement can make. This was a stalled project that needed community involvement and support, said Susan Benton, President and CEO of Urban Libraries Council. “Joan and Irwin Jacobs stepped up with their time, money, network, and dedication to jump start and complete the new Central Library that will serve the citizens of San Diego.”

About the Urban Libraries Council
The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) is a membership association that includes leading public library systems in the U.S. and Canada who are shaping the future of library service to people and communities. While ULC’s members primarily represent urban and suburban communities, lessons from their work are used by library leaders everywhere who are committed to the continuous evolution and strengthening of libraries to meet changing community needs. ULC strategically addresses issues important to all communities including education, workforce and economic development, public safety, environmental sustainability, health and wellness.


# # #