Saturday, May 31, 2008

Head To The Library For Fun?

I know. Libraries are old stodgy buildings filled with lots of old books, where the old spinster librarians constantly shush you to be quiet, and the only time you get to have fun is when you leave. This library is nothing like that.

The Salt Lake City Library's Main Branch in downtown Salt Lake is interesting and inviting from the moment you see the exterior of the building. Once you go inside it only intrigues and excites you even more.

The north and east wall of the building leans inward from the ground up and curves around from the northwest to the southeast, shrinking from five stories down to nearly ground level.

When you enter the building you can see this curve extended through the five story atrium. The atrium has a glass ceiling and feels nearly like you are still outside on the entrance plaza. To the left are shops that sell books, art, flowers, and food; to the right is the library itself.

The building is meant to be explored. It glass walls and elevators and flying staircases let you look out at all the patrons, books and public spaces in the library. Cross one of the bridges from the library side through the atrium to the exterior curved wall for a great place to read or study. Each of the desks has connections for Internet access and the whole building is a wireless hot spot.

Head to top floor and visit the art gallery with its always changing exhibits. From the gallery floor you can walk out onto the rooftop gardens. The gardens, with it plants, trees and pathways, are designed to feel like a hill or mountainside rather than the top of a building and you get an amazing view of the city and the Wasatch Mountains. From the roof, you can either go back down inside the library or walk the top of the exterior curving wall down to the library plaza.

The children's reading area is an great place for kids. It is in the "basement" of the library, but is at the bottom of a 5 story atrium will a glass wall that extends to the ceiling so there is always plenty of light. The kids can explore not only the books but the two special rooms that are hidden underneath the pond on Library Square. One is Grandmother's Attic, built to give a cozy place for kids to curl up with a book. The other is the Crystal Cave, the kind of place to let their imaginations run wild as they pretend to be in another world.

The Children's Area also has a craft room when there are often activities for the kids to participate in. Check the library's website for a list of events for children and adults.

You could spend hours here, playing and exploring, surfing the Internet and grabbing a bite to eat. You might even want to read a book.

Place: Salt Lake City Library's Main Branch
Location: 210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City
Phone: 801.524.8200
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 9:00 6:00 p.m.; Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City (downtown): 0.2 miles
Ogden: 38.0 miles
Provo: 44.3 miles
Logan: 82.7 miles


Anonymous said...

Still doesn't look fun. The internet killed the library.

Drew said...

I disagree. I think the Interent has enhanced the library experience. If you go to the Salt Lake City Library's Main Branch there are more people using it today than were using the old downtown branch years ago.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure which came first, but both the interior and exterior of this building look like the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC. See here:

Drew said...

Moshe Safdie designed both libraries. The Vancouver Public Library was finished in 1995 and the Salt Lake City Public Library was finished in 2003.