Salt Lake Libraries

Library employees sort through

But as the ranks of indigent patrons ebb and flow, fewer libraries are content to manage problem behaviors without backup.

The majority of police calls to Library Square last year involved smoking-related infractions, followed by incidents involving alcohol or theft. Police calls are common to both Library Square and Washington Square to the west, home block to the City and County Building

The main branch patrols its own interior with two to three security staff. The square outside the library is considered part of Salt Lake City's parks, and is patrolled by Salt Lake City police officers.

In a new program introduced this month, the library will begin working with Salt Lake County Human Services, the Utah Department of Workforce Services and Salt Lake City police to direct patrons to social services including homeless shelters, mental health counseling or substance-abuse prevention programs. But only with patrons' consent, Hancock stressed.

"We're not forcing services down anyone's throat, " Hancock said. "Everyone's welcome here. Most people spend their time here productively. We don't want to stop that. But this is a place where we have a large homeless population, and we want to provide services to those who might need them most. This is a great opportunity to focus on a larger challenge."

Three full-time outreach workers from Volunteers of America (VOA) will be at the main library sometime this month, offering information, counseling and transportation to service providers for patrons in need. VOA outreach workers will later train library staff in de-escalation skills to minimize conflicts with patrons.

"Safety and stability is a large part of what the library's asking for, and we're ready to help with that, " said Kathy Bray, president and CEO of Volunteers of America Utah Chapter.

The program was initiated by Linda Hamilton, the library's transitional director, Hancock said. As chief administrative officer at Salt Lake County before coming to the Salt Lake City Library in the wake of Beth Elder's resignation last year, Hamilton's expertise with county operations is expected to make the new program as efficient and effective as possible.

"It's about all of us coming together to see how we can benefit the library and its programs, " said Tim Whalen, mental health director at Salt Lake County Division of Behavioral Health.

It's Interesting

  • The Salt Lake City Public Library system is a network of public libraries funded by Salt Lake City. The Free Public Library of Salt Lake City first opened on February 14, 1898. The system is under the direction of a library board and circulates more than three million items each year.
    There are six locations: the Main Branch library downtown...
  • KCPW-FM is a public radio station in Salt Lake City, Utah which broadcasts programming from NPR, BBC, PRI, as well as local programming. It broadcasts from a studio at Library Square at the Salt Lake City Public Library in downtown Salt Lake City.
    It broadcasts at 88.3 MHz FM (KCPW-FM) in Salt Lake City, and 105.3 MHz FM (K287AE) in Holladay...

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