I promised a virtual tour of the Salt Lake City Library and though it has taken several days to get any chance to blog, I haven't forgotten my promise.
I love libraries. By the time I was in seventh grade, I was so proud of the fact that the local library was one of the places my mother would allow me to go by myself. The summer between seventh and eighth grades, I checked out and read over thirty books (I kept a list). My parents never censored my reading, and I moved into adult books at an early age, first with their library, then the public one. Those trips to the library, set in a typical California garden mall, also gave me a window into shops my mother never cared about, including the crafts section of my local Woolworths.
Later, as a young and poor mother moving to the mountains, I found that Interlibrary Loan was able to get me almost any book I wanted to read, along with lots of videos. I just had to be patient; eventually my requests would come around to me. I checked out and watched Elizabeth Zimmerman's first video during that time period.
Currently, my strongest association with a library is the branch in Nevada City where our fiber guild rents the meeting room twice a month, once for our monthly meeting on the fourth Tuesday night of the month and another time for our Spinning Saturday get-together on the second Saturday afternoon. My library sure seemed small and provincial last week after returning home from SLC.
I already knew that SLC had an award-winning, almost-new library in the center of its downtown area from my trip back for Estes Park last year; I didn't have time to see it, but Margene had promised to take Carole by after they dropped me at the airport for my flight home. Therefore, it was on my list and I was NOT disappointed.
This photo, borrowed from the library's official website gives you a sense of just how large and how unusual the design is... these people thought of everything, from underground parking, through open book stacks and lots of computer use areas (and lots of computers provided by the library), to fireplaces indoors and out. There is even a ground floor courtyard with shops and tables to sit and eat, drink coffee, read, people-watch and knit (I did all of the above), and to shop at the library's gift store (checked that off my list too).
As I was going through the photos I took, I realized that I did not get any of the inside... I hesitate to take photos of people without their permission. I can tell you though that the place was full of people and provided ample settings to browse, read or do serious research. The collection is vast, and I only tried to scratch the surface of the textiles section and browse through the latest fiction... I would have to camp out inside the building for at least a month to get a sense of what other treasures are housed there.
I was happy to see families getting books together, young teen girls giggling over purchases of a few dollars while carrying armloads of novels, homeless people warming at the fires while reading a newspaper or magazine, and all kinds of folks in between.
The roof top garden
The awe-inspiring view of the Wasatch Mountains on a blustery spring day... you just can't get that anywhere else
Children rolling down a hill in the park on the same city block (I know, they are pretty hard to see, but their laughter heard from the roof was delightful to me)
The amazing walkway from the roof back down to the main floor
The formal sunken sculpture garden
Salt Lake City can be extremely proud of the fact that the attraction they chose to make world-class is a public library, open to all, free of charge.