SD Central Library Furnishings

An SDFWA Project To Be Proud Of

In 2013, as construction was nearing completion on the new San Diego Central Library building, Bob Reese was asked by the Friends of the Library (including his wife Joan) to be on a committee to plan the Library Shop on the first floor. Bob and several other SDFWA members ended up donating a great deal of sweat equity and some high value lumber to produce a number of fine fixtures and pieces of furniture for both the Library Shop and other areas of the new building. The items range from counter space and display cases to beautiful and original shop furnishings. They are located in the Library Shop (first floor), the Wellness Center (second floor), and the IDEA computer lab (eighth floor).

The Library Shop furnishings include modular display boxes in varying sizes that can be arranged and stacked for displaying merchandise. Bob built the prototypes using Baltic birch and maple face frames, and Bill Collins put together a team to cut and assemble all 50 boxes. They were then returned to Bob and Jim Vitale for finishing – all done at once for a uniform appearance. Then, Mike McElhiney built a display table using book-matched slabs of Oregon Maple, and followed up with two more Maple display tables with storage cabinets, plus two side tables and the cashier’s stand from maple and African sapele.


At the request of the Library Director, Bob and Mike also build two custom computer stations for the Wellness Center on the second floor. These allow patrons to research medical conditions in relative privacy. Apparently, Mike did most of the work for the computer stations, while Bob installed the 63 feet of computer workstation counter space in the IDEA Lab on the 8th floor.


The twin goals of saving the Library some money ($40,000 - $50,000) and providing the Shop with unique furnishing were surely met. An example occurred when a multimillion dollar donor was attending an event in the Auditorium while the Library and Shop were not open. Noticing the woodworking through the window, he asked to be allowed to examine the furnishings more closely, and later requested a tour to see the other items the Woodworkers had produced.


Bob and his wife, Joan, have been friends of the library for some years. They and the woodworkers from SDFWA were honored by the Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library organization in October, 2013. Bob Reese's team consisted of Eva Hickman and the following SDFWA members: Charlie Brown, George Burns, Bill Collins, Paul Cruz, Bob Dalton, Mike McElhiney, Lloyd Uber, and Jim Vitale.


If you have not yet seen San Diego's magnificent Central Library, try to visit it. You will not be disappointed and you will have the pleasure of admiring our member's work first hand. Most of the Library's books on woodworking are housed downtown - it's a great place to browse that part of the collection. Jeff Bratt has put together the fine collection of photos which illustrate our work and accompany this article. This project was one of our most ambitious and worthy Pro Bono efforts and has perhaps not received as much recognition as it deserves.


Dick Ugoretz,
Member at Large


More Library furnishing pictures - the cashier's stand in the Library Shop, SDFWA members with the Library Director, Library Shop furnishings being installed, and Mike McElhiney the lumberjack...