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Meet Uyen Tran of San Diego Public Library in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Uyen Tran.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Uyen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started working at San Diego Public library in high school and never thought I would end up working in a library full time. Why and how did I end up becoming a librarian? I was always interested in technology so I never thought I would end up being a librarian, but then I was inspired by my manager to go to library school because, at that time, libraries are starting to offer ebooks and becoming more digital.

I always thought I would go to library school and eventually work as a digital librarian.

Well, I never quite reach that point. I got really close, but along the way, I discovered the maker movement in San Diego and fell in the love with the community and what it stood for so when our library received a grant for two 3d printers, the rest was history.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Of course, it was not a smooth road. I think success can come easy for some, but I think it’s really the struggles that make you really feel like you’ve succeeded once you overcome it. For me, it was a very difficult experience because what I was doing was so new that some staff and patrons questioned why noisy 3d printers are allowed in libraries. It was difficult for me to explain to some people why what I was doing was so important. Ultimately, I had to learn to be happy doing what I truly believe was the best for me and the future of my library.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the San Diego Public Library story. Tell us more about the business.
I’m a librarian; though some have confused me with being an engineer since I manage our library’s makerspace (Innovation Lab at Central Library). I’m a librarian who works with technology every day; which I know is a weird concept for some, including myself.

I’m still amazed that I had such and amazing opportunity to do so much. I never thought would be using 3d printers, laser cutters, milling machines, and other tools as part of my job. Being able to teach others how to use the tools is a dream alone so I was very fortunate to have ended up where I did with my career.

San Diego Public Library has 35 branches and the main Central Library that was built in 2013. As a library, we’ve always been ahead of the curve when it comes to offering San Diegans with access to technology. In San Diego, we were the first library to offer wifi, eReaders for check out, access to 3d printers, and wireless hotspots for check out. Our Library Director is very forward thinking and encourages staff to take risks to innovate so I think that’s why we’re so unique because people don’t often associate libraries as being innovative.

I’m so proud of what we’ve done as a library in terms of creating new space and services for our community. I’m looking forward to our library adding additional tech centers to provide our patrons with even more opportunities to learn and access new technologies.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I was lucky that my library got 3d printers just when the maker movement came to San Diego. I couldn’t have asked for better timing because if it wasn’t for the two happening at the same time, I don’t know how our library’s makerspace would have ended up.

I think luck is important for successes and failures, but I think the ability to recognize luck and opportunity is every more important. Knowing when it’s time to take that risk is how success can take place and knowing that sometimes bad luck happens is how you can move on from failure.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 330 Park Blvd San Diego, CA 92101
  • Website: SanDiegoLibrary.org
  • Phone: 619-238-6622
  • Email: utran@sandiego.gov

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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