SLC Public Library considering opening 24 hours a day

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SALT LAKE CITY - The downtown branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library may soon be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

John Spears, Executive Director of the Library told Fox 13 he was recently approached by a few organizations, including Downtown Alliance and the Bruce Bastian Foundation, interested in funding a two-year pilot project that would allow the library to keep its doors open at all times.

“On one level it’s a massive undertaking. It’s something very unusual. It’s something unique,” Spears said.

The focus of the project would be to provide the homeless with a safe place to go at night, while also serving other library patrons who can’t use the library during its regular hours. On average, the city’s main library branch sees between 300-400 homeless people per day, using the facility to stay warm.

“It really is a very logical extension of what the mission of a public library is. We are here to allow people to better themselves, to provide enrichment at the individual level and at the level of the community,” said Spears. “Someone who might want a book late at night, someone who might be interested in taking a computer class, someone who might want to see a movie screening, really, anyone who has had difficulty using the library.”

The new hours would cost the library approximately $650,000 per year. The library intends to offer special programs throughout the week, depending on the demand. Included in the fee is security costs for monitoring the space at night.

Next week, the Salt Lake City Council will take public comment on the plan and hold a vote the following week.

The goal is to begin the project in early 2015.

“We see it as a very natural extension of we already do during the daytime,” said Spears.

11 comments

  • GrungeTurkey

    Finally I can get books and movies when I get out of work! Right now, it’s closed when i get off. Will there be midnight movies?

      • DC

        The library serves more homeless people than the road home does. It would be one thing if the library wanted to extend its hours to serve patrons instead of turning itself into a homeless shelter. Use the additional money to fund a new homeless shelter or expand the road home. The library should focus on being a library. As it stands now it’s not a great place to take kids or walk into alone with out being accosted.

  • Tony

    I had no idea that was still a library… I thought the city approved another shelter to help further hinder our downtown experience. We need to move the shelters… The last time I was at the library I tried to use the restroom on the 3rd floor and a homeless man was bathing and washing his cloths in the sink. I also saw a guy ripping pages out of the books for who knows what. I am moving out of the downtown area because I cannot go anywhere, any time of day, without being harassed or threatened by our rapidly growing homeless population.

  • The Last Real Conservative

    Welcome to the Road Home II, formerly known as the SLC public library. Ya know, I’ve noticed that there’s a bunch of oft-unused space. Plenty of room for beds, showers, and rec rooms where people can watch TV, sell drugs, get into fights, drink booze…the list goes on. Anyone else think this is a really bad idea?

    • DC

      It is a bad idea. There’s a reason that the most violent and crime ridden area of salt lake surrounds the homeless shelters and homeless service providers.

      • C

        So are you just one of those people that are too afraid to talk to them to find out they’re really not bad people? The library is serving a good purpose by doing this, (and it’s not as if they will be able to sleep there and such, they boot them out if they try.) Maybe try compassion?

  • Stitchter

    Why hasn’t the public comment period been posted on the City Council web page? Are they quietly hoping to pass this under the radar? And, really, who are the people behind the downtown alliance? My guess: business owners and developers who just want to relocate the homeless away from their business store/restaurant fronts. Imagine what useful assistance The Road Home could provide our homeless population with an additional $650,000 annual contribution to their working budget.

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