Should Salt Lake City Public Library stay open 24/7?

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Some in downtown Salt Lake City love the idea of keeping Salt Lake City Public Libray's doors unlocked around the clock, but others say it would only attract more crime.

Tuesday night, the City Council took public comment to hear what residents think of the idea.

"The proposal is to go to a 24/7 for the library to serve people who are night owls, who may not be able to use library services during regular hours -- and I think there are a lot of those in our city," said Luke Garrott, the Vice Chair of the Salt Lake City Council.

If passed, the downtown Salt Lake City library, 210 E. 400 South, would be the first in the country, maybe the world, to become accessible at all hours.

"We'll be open to everyone, whether it's homeless youth, whether it's the homeless in general or whether it's an entrepreneur, a young family, a shift worker, a student who has to leave because the Marriott is closing -- we want to ensure that we provide an environment and services of the library to everyone," said John Spears, the executive director of library.

City Council members are saying yes to the proposal.

It would take more than $600,000 to keep the Library open 24/7 and half of the funding will come from private donors. However, not everyone is keen on the idea of having homeless people track through the open space at all hours of the night. On average, about 400 people a day without a home use the facility to stay warm.

"I strongly disagree opening the Library 24/7, with an expressed objective serving the homeless population, among others. Opening the library would bring this neighborhood the unfortunate consequences of increased crime at night," said a Salt Lake City resident during the council meeting Tuesday night.

"My concerns are whether there has been sufficient public input on this question -- this Library board itself has only been pursuing this idea for about two months now, and I've only known about it for a couple of days, it seems like there's been very little time for true assessment of this project," said another resident.

The City Council is expected to vote on this Dec. 9.

Council Members say it would be a two-year pilot program.

8 comments

  • Paul

    based on what I see on the news this appears to be an issue, however rather than leaving the library open 24 /7 why don’t we make homeless shelters open 24 /7 therefore we don’t have people freezing to death in the middle of winter. I think that the City Council members forget that they get to go home sleep in a warm bed, take a warm shower, and have a hot meal. so why is leaving the library open 24 /7 an issue and leaving the shelters closed not an issue?

  • lonnie

    I see the Salt Lake City Library should not stay open 24 /7 it’s a library not a homeless shelter if anything they should make more homeless shelters not use the library is one I believe it cost millions of dollars

  • Does it matter

    If Salt Lake City keeps it open 424/07 what is next? Will they take the books out for room for cots? Bonfires with the books for heat? Come on Salt Lake keep it a library. Keep it a quality place of learning.

  • Christopher Beebe

    Personally, I believe a library is a place for reading and learning … NOT a shelter for the homeless. Go ahead and lengthen hours of operation to some extent, BUT KEEP 24/7 OUT OF THE EQUATION!

  • BOB

    Typical liberal mindset: Let’s convert the library into a homeless shelter. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to convert City Hall into a homeless shelter where the people who dreamed up this idea could share their offices with these folks.

  • Pocketdoom

    Why does 24/7 equal homeless shelter to the comments? There are plenty of 24 hour places that do not have homeless encampments. Before I started working at a library, I never had time to go to the library based on my work shifts. Just like the Post Office, my hours were the same as the library. When I was not at work, the Library was closed. This would be a big benefit to single parents, retail employees, and other service industry workers.

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