Mixed Use Utah

We didn’t spend the night in Utah in a cave up in the hills. We spent the night in Utah in a car up in the hills of Wasatch National Forest. Woke up to another amazing view and then wound through about a hundred miles of mountain roads before emerging in the small town of Kamas. We were pretty eager to get to Salt Lake City, where we were looking forward to spending the day researching. But the library was right on the (only) road through town, so we got out to check it out.

The Summit County Library was in a small building…


and occupied an even smaller space in that mixed-use building.


Also in the building were a health clinic and the Motor Vehicles Administration.


The library itself was heavily weighted towards light reading materials, but the librarian was wonderful, knowledgeable, and happy to help.

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A short drive across recently developed desert brought us to Salt Lake City. The library there was huge, with the building and the grounds covering an entire square block downtown.


The shopping mall feel didn’t end at the door. The first thing one encounters when one walks in the main entrance of the Salt Lake City Library, Main Branch, is a hair salon.


And that’s just one of a whole row of shops that hold prime retail space in the great hall of the library, under a flock of book-butterflys.


The library also had a mallrat-esque cast of characters hanging around inside and out front. When we walked in, a young woman came up to us, explained that she’d just been assaulted by the police, and asked to use our cell phone. Before we could explain that neither of our phones was charged, a man in a button-up shirt who looked more like mall security than any librarian I’ve ever seen before or since came up and told her, quite rudely, that she wasn’t allowed to talk to us and had to go outside. He then apologized to us until we expressed empathy for the woman in her struggle with the police, at which point a light switched off in his eyes. I’m fairly certain that at that moment he re-categorized us as shiftless drifters who were probably early for Burning Man. Oh well, people have surely thought worse of me.


One strange feature I’ve been noticing is automated check out kiosks. I’m concerned that it means we’re going to lose even more librarian positions. Of course, given the budget cuts libraries have seen recently and the outrageous staffing reductions they’ve had to put up with, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that many librarians are happy to be relieved of that fairly mindless duty. But I bet there are a lot of others who miss seeing what people are checking out.


By far the coolest feature of the SLC library (besides the ample air conditioned space for people to come in out of the grueling heat) is the zine collection in the young adult section.



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