San Diego Public Library Movies
Libraries have quietly become the new Blockbuster Video. And if you live in San Diego and love movies, then the San Diego Public Library is the best spot in town! As they host thousands of films for free and regularly add new ones on release (DVD/BluRay). Thanks to donations and local taxes, you’re able to access their selection for free!
To make things streamlined, we’ll start with listing some of the best films available under each genre. Along with some rules & requirements, Tips & Tricks, and FAQs. Please remember that you’ll need membership to the library before you can begin renting movies!
Support the San Diego Public Library
If you would like to support the library financially or through volunteer work, it would be greatly appreciated. We personally love Central Library in Downtown, and with your support all libraries can better manage their increasing costs and ensure growth. You can walk in to make a donation or click here to see how more ways to support the San Diego Public Library.
Must See Films – by Genre
The selection of San Diego Library movies is huge! To make things easier, we’ve focused on looking at their selection through genres. We’ve done our best to categorize films appropriately to suit certain interests, while focusing on the best of cinema available. We’ll continue to update to these lists and add new lists along the way.
To start browsing great films, choose a genre below:
- Action Films
- Adventure Films
- Animation (Mature) Films
- Criterion Collection
- Comedy Films
- Crime & Justice Films
- Crazy & Strange Films
- Date Night Films
- Horror Films
- Thriller Films
The San Diego Public Library is always adding movies to their collection. If you’re interested in seeing what’s new, you can view their latest movie additions here.
Library Rules & Requirements
- Free membership is limited to California residents, folks with property in San Diego (city), and are located in San Diego during military service.
- Get a Library Card | Public Library | City of San Diego Official Website
- Non-Residents of California must pay a $32 annual fee (as of March 2022)
- You can check out up to 18 films at a time (as of March 2022)
- Check out duration generally lasts for 30-days per item
- If you exceed the time limit, it auto-extends for the same time period UNLESS someone else requests a hold for the same item and there aren’t any other free items available for checkout.
- For the full list of the Library’s Lending Policy visit: Library Lending | Public Library
- The San Diego Public Library system is separate from the San Diego County and Coronado Library stems. Meaning they don’t share inventory or membership.
- To view SDPL online videos (via Kanopy) you’ll also need to register online:
Tips & Tricks
Have films ready for pickup!
You can go online and use the “Place Hold” feature to put films on hold. Making it even more convenient, as you can come in weekly (or bi-weekly) to pickup your latest holds.
- For films that are not available at your preferred location, the library in possession of the film will transfer them to your preferred location. This adds a few days to the wait, but it’s great at reducing your number of visits to the library.
- Films with more holds than the supply basically put you on a waitlist. Even if you have the max amount of items checked out, you can always add holds that require a waitlist.
Does the San Diego Public library have family friendly section?
Yes! There’s a children’s section in the library, which houses many films and shows. The area is well decorated for children and allows them to take their time browsing the library for movies and books alike. It’s very welcoming for children and I highly recommend you allow them to take a look around.
I Want to Visit the Library but Don’t Want to Pay for Parking
Good news everyone! Locations with paid parking lots allow for two (2) free hours of parking.
- Park your car in the library’s designated garage
- Bring you parking ticket into the library (don’t lose it!)
- Scan your ticket at the scanning machine (ask a Librarian)
- Scan the same ticket when leaving the garage
FAQ – San Diego Library Movies
Annual Membership Renewal
San Diego Public Library has an annual renewal policy. This means once per year you’ll have to provide proof of residence. It can be annoying when your membership suddenly stops working, and it’s been around a year. If this happens, just ask them if a renewal request was submitted and you can clear things up.
What if I don’t live in San Diego?
Non-residents looking for membership pay a fee. But even if you’re not a San Diego resident, there are so many libraries still available to you. Visit your local library and check out what they have! If you willing to create a link to their catalogue, I’m more than happy to share it here for others to see!
I Like To Buy Movies! Do they sell them?
Yes! Each Library within the San Diego Public Library system has a store. I prefer the Central Library located in Downtown San Diego. Their prices are very affordable and also go on to help fund the library. Prices generally fluctuate based on the item, but generally are:
- DVD: $2 per disc/movie
- BluRay: $3 per disc/movie
Note: Shows with multiple discs will be charged by the individual disc.
I’d Like to Make Some Film Donations. How can I make one?
First off, SDPL doesn’t necessarily accept everything into their collection. They operate on a budget and adding a single film costs money. As they have to add it into the system, create tracking labels, possibly replace cases & DVD covers, as well as pay staff for this work.
If you’re interested in making a donation, you can do so via the following steps. But please bear in mind that anything that isn’t accepted may be donated for sale at the library’s store. Which will still help raise funds for their operations.
- Provide DVDs or DVD/BluRay combos
- All films must be in DVD format to support the lowest denominator when it comes to library patrons. Many people still don’t possess a BluRay player. Anything lacking a DVD disc copy will not be accepted. (i.e. No BluRay Only)
- Copies must be in good quality condition
- Cases must be in plastic hard cases
- Paper sleeves cases, if accepted, will be converted into a hard case. Costing more money on the library’s behalf.
- Supply films that are either already in demand OR don’t exist in the collection and would be something that could be in demand
- To check if something is in demand, conduct a search on their site and see if it has holds or if free copies are low.
- If it doesn’t exist in their system, consider if it’s something that would see high demand. For example, a great missing Disney film is likely to see addition.