MON • TUES: 11:30am – 8:00pm
WED • THURS • FRI • SAT: 9:30am – 6:00pm

Search the Public Library Catalog

Your Library :: Idea Lab


The IDEA LAB at the La Jolla/Riford Library is open to “any member of the community who is curious about science or has an idea they want to try out.” Those are the words of Callen Hyland, a Senior Research Scientist at the University of San Diego and one of the lab’s passionate volunteers. Since the Idea Lab’s grand opening on May 25, 2019, volunteers and patrons have made excellent use of the signature space. The lab has three main aspects—a community biology lab, a 3D printer lab, and two brand new Mac computers equipped to edit digitized photos and videos (such as what you’ve digitized in the Memory Lab!). 


The bio lab is accessible to registrants from the public during scheduled weekend workshops and by appointment only. The 3D printer lab and memory lab are open whenever a volunteer is present. Check here for information on service hours and upcoming workshops and unleash the citizen scientist in you!


The La Jolla/Riford Library boasts what is quite possibly the first biology lab inside a public library anywhere in the world. It contains everything required for the majority of molecular biology techniques, such as a thermal cycler, gel electrophoresis, and centrifuge. Thanks to the camera connected to one of the lab microscopes, students can view their slides up on the TV or on a computer screen, take images, and conduct more in-depth analysis of microscope slides.

At the new space’s grand opening, Congressman Scott Peters bestowed it with a congressional proclamation! As he put it, the lab is “a reflection of the bio-tech industry in La Jolla and makes emerging technology accessible to anybody.” 


The first summer camp at the bio-lab was a Hands-On Genetic Modification workshop aimed to teach children and their parents about cells, DNA, DNA replication, and PCR. These experiments were completed with a bacterial transformation (introduction of foreign DNA), which caused the bacteria to glow when exposed to UV light.

How can you help? By supporting the Friends of La Jolla Library you can help support workshops, after school programming and mentoring for science fair projects. To discuss naming rights for our Idea Lab, please contact us.

La Jolla Cove Microbial Diversity Project


La Jolla Cove is an iconic swimming beach popular with tourists and locals. Known for its abundant marine mammals, sea birds and fish, and its neighboring busy urban area, the Cove is a microcosm for the complex interactions between humans and wildlife.

Although La Jolla’s marine wildlife is famous, the micro-organisms that populate the water are a mystery. San Diego County routinely tests the water for a small number of bacterial species that are associated with sewage pollution. However, this is certainly just scratching the surface since ocean water is a complex ecosystem with potentially millions of diverse types of bacteria. 

The La Jolla Cove Microbial Diversity Project will use cutting edge genomic sequencing technologies to survey every species in the water. We propose to sample water from the Cove and nearby swimming beaches, extract DNA, and use sequencing to understand how the unique biological environment, including the presence of humans and marine mammals, affects the ecosystem. The results of the study will be shared directly with the community through seminars and workshops at the Library.

To support this or other projects at the library's Bio Lab, click here to donate directly to this fund.  Please write Bio Lab in the designation field. We thank you for your support!


3D Lab Partners with Cabrillo Monument

Recently the La Jolla Library, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the Cabrillo National Monument collaborated on 3D Cabrillo a multifaceted educational resource and experience available to educators both near and far. 

Utilizing a special imagining program to create biomodels of many of the prominent organisms found in the Rocky Intertidal Zone of Cabrillo Monument, the participants were able to connect nature and technology. Free downloadable versions of these models are available to the public on their website at the 3D Cabrillo Biomodel Library. These models can be produced on any 3D printer, such as those available through the San Diego public library system.

The goal of this initiative is to highlight the public’s important role in awareness and stewardship of our public lands, a tenant inherent in the very mission of the Park Service. By connecting nature and technology, they look to foster excitement in the next generation of environmental stewards.