Salt Lake City Public Library

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The building was the catalyst. “The affirmation of the bond issue vote was huge, with its 68 percent approval margin, ” says Nancy Tessman, director of the Salt Lake City Public Library (SLCPL). The vote was in November 1998, and the new building opened in February 2003, a magnificent creation of the team led by internationally celebrated architect Moshe Safdie. Now, nearly four years later and thanks to zealous comment and active participation by citizens, the spirit and attitudes engendered by the new library grow stronger and deeper with every new service, event, or partner the library adds.

SLCPL has established itself as the center of town, the community gathering place. The city block it occupies, now called Library Square, is where “citizens practice democracy, ” say library staffers. Of course, it serves as the “cultural warehouse” for Salt Lake City and Utah, as Safdie said, though he quickly added that it was also “a community of readers, a place where people interact with the material and each other.”

The library has even transcended those ambitious expectations and gone beyond being the “placemaker” Safdie intended. It has become a crucial center for the city, the agency to start and sustain the celebration of diversity and the deep and difficult effort to understand, enjoy, and learn from all that has changed Salt Lake City.

Sensitive design

The library mission came from the people of Salt Lake City. Through focus groups and meetings, they told library planners that they wanted more than a new building. It was time for the city and its library to be redefined. People wanted their fellow citizens and the world to recognize that the community had changed greatly over the years, that it is now culturally and ethnically more diverse—a self-examination spurred by the Olympics.

It's Interesting

  • Matthew Flatt is a computer scientist, currently teaching at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City). He is also a member of the PLT group and, as such, responsible for the creation and maintenance of Racket.
    Flatt received his PhD at Rice University under the direction of Matthias Felleisen. His dissertation is on the mechanics of first-class...
  • Jennie Hansen is a Latter Day Saint (LDS) fiction author whose publications include newspaper and magazines articles, news stories, editorials, short stories, reviews of other LDS author's work, and twelve novels. She also is a frequent speaker at firesides, conferences, and literary groups.
    Hansen was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and was first...
  • Howard D. White (born on June 15, 1936 in Salt Lake City, Utah) is a scientist in library and information science with a focus on informetrics and scientometrics.
    He has published on bibliometrics and co-citation analysis, evaluation of reference services, expert systems for reference work, innovative online searching, social science data...

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