Salt Lake City’s main library

May 1, 2019 by MrEricSir

Salt Lake City main library
Salt Lake City’s main library building

Both my original plans for today weren’t meant to be; I wanted to go on a hike, but it started to rain. I had a tour lined up, but the guide had to cancel as he wasn’t feeling well. Crap, what to do?

Thumbing through my notes over lunch I found a nearby attraction I might not have bothered with on a sunny day: Salt Lake City’s main library.

From the outside it looks like a semi-circular office building with a mysterious ramp jutting out from the side. It could almost be mistaken for a small corporate campus.

Salt Lake City main library Salt Lake City main library

Yet inside it’s a completely different experience altogether. The entryway leads to a five story tall atrium with a skylight above, the library itself on one side; and on the other small shops including a friends of the library bookstore and a cafe.

I know bean-counter types absolutely despise indoor atriums since all that empty air means paying for a beefier HVAC system and all the extra costs that entails. Worse yet, the main library features glass elevators which were being wiped down from the inside by a janitor while I was wandering around. So it’s always a rare treat when there’s a big atrium open to the public in a municipal building.

One thing the Salt Lake City main library is known for is their large collection of comics, graphic novels, and zines. I think that’s great actually — the internet and smartphone era has relegated libraries to much more of a niche audience, so why not cater to those niches?

Salt Lake City main library

The real not-so-hidden secret of Salt Lake City’s main library is on top. Most of the fifth floor is offices closed to the public, but from the elevator you can walk across a small lobby to an exit on to the rooftop. Fortunately the rain took a quick break as I made my way up there.

As you can see in the panoramic photo above, from left to right is the top of the elevator shaft, the skylight, and a rooftop garden.

But the interesting part is all the mountains in the distance. Even with the clouds the snow capped mountains are visible in every direction.

Although I haven’t been here long so far my big takeaway about Salt Lake City is despite being a relatively boring town, you can look in almost any direction at street level and see vast mountains in the distance. From a slightly higher vantage point like the roof of the main library those same mountains somehow look even greater, yet somehow even further away.