Downtown City Library is a “Home Away from Home”


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Jennifer Grady had her wedding in an “uncommon” location where there were more books than bouquets.
Grady said “I do” in the Salt Lake City Public Library downtown. She was married on the rooftop plaza in 2008 and still remembers that day.
“My favorite part of my wedding was this great picture of my husband and I after the ceremony watching the sun set across the city,” she said. “If we had planned our wedding at any other venue we would never have gotten to enjoy that view.”
While weddings aren’t a usual occurrence at the City Library, they contribute to the many unique events the space holds.
The library is an architectural gem situated in the middle of Salt Lake, with stability built-in for earthquake protection. The Teflon plates that add to the design of the building have the ability to slide, with a glass curtain that is flexible. Instead of shattering, should the glass in the library ever break, it would fall in pebbles instead.
The library also boasts 240,000 square feet, 320 miles of electrical wire, 1.9 million pounds of steel and caters to almost 4 million patrons each year.
Surrounding the library is a plaza and gardens that link the library to Washington Square Park and that hosts large community events. There are also several conference rooms and a rooftop deck.
These same rooms also serve as a meeting place for the library’s own events, including art exhibits, movies, kids’ activities, computer courses and literary forums. These events are constantly changing, and all the information required to find and attend them is published to the library’s website.
Morgan Johnson has lived in Salt Lake for more than 30 years and loves going to the library.
“I enjoy the public sphere this library provides,” Johnson said. “It has become my home away from home.”
After becoming a state in 1896, one of the first laws to pass in Utah’s new legislature was the establishment of new libraries. Initially placed on the top floor of the city-county building, the location proved inadequate to fulfill patron needs and the location was moved to State Street until 1964. However, this was not the final move for the library. In 1998, after celebrating over 100 years, an $84 million bond was granted to build a new library at its current location.
Several firms petitioned to build the library and change the downtown landscape. The Boston-based firm Moshe Safdie won out with a vision that included plazas, open window spaces and large areas that encouraged the community to step into the library, which was meant to be an extension of the people it served.
The City Library is open Monday through Sunday and offers services from renting books and CDs to visiting art exhibitions.
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