Scouting report – Salt Lake City Library (Downtown)

I have now experienced the Salt Lake City Public Library. Or Xanadu, as I may have to call it. I am impressed.

I walked there on my lunch break the other day and had about twenty minutes to look around. Not nearly enough. That was just enough time to get lost a couple times and locate a couple important sections. I would have preferred an hour or two at the least. And that would have maybe covered the inside. Checking out the aerial view online later on, it appears there an entire complex, including landscaped lawns, amphitheaters, patios, and the works.

It’s a very modern building, with architecture invoking the Colloseum (to me, at least). The main entrance opens into a massive piazza that runs along one side of the building. On the outside edge is a row of little shops, while on the levels above are numerous reading couches. The inner edge is the library proper.

It’s designed to get you lost. I saw that the children’s section was downstairs, so I found the nearest stairway downward. I found lots of conference rooms and lecture halls. I found a cultural exhibit on Mexico. I found windows that revealed the children’s section. But no door for me. I had to go back upstairs and into the library proper, and then downstairs to get there. That’s probably a good thing. There are two ways in, and with kids that’s already one too many.

Speaking of which, the kids section is part play-gym. I’m jealous. I want to try out all the little cubby-hole rooms sometime. It’s also big. It’s probably at least double the space of our local branch’s children’s section–and that one includes the YA section. This library has the YA section in with fiction on a separate floor.

I did get a quick glance at the fiction floor before I had to leave. I didn’t even know where to start. And above that were three floors of non-fiction, periodicals, and more conference rooms. I didn’t even try to get a look up there. I need more time.

When they designed this library they wanted it to be much more than a place for books (as if that weren’t enough). They were looking to build a cultural center. I think they did it.

I told my wife about it, and she’s already planning a day-trip with the kids to check it out. They’re going to go completely bonkers over the place. I know, because I already have.