Posts Tagged ‘library’

Salt Lake City’s main library

May 1st, 2019

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.

San Diego Central Library

December 28th, 2018

San Diego city skyline

From certain angles the San Diego downtown skyline has a strange feature; an egg-shaped dome. Even from a distance the dome doesn’t appear solid but more like the skeleton of a dome. Perhaps someone’s building a government capitol or a large church?

Wrong on all counts — not only is the dome complete, it’s part of San Diego’s Central Library. The dome sits over the top couple of floors of the building’s “front” side, letting natural light in for reading.

The building is open to the public with the exception of a school that takes up a couple floors.

San Diego Central Library San Diego Central Library

Walking in from the street there’s a three-story tall atrium in the checkout area, along with a giant chess set. This made me laugh not because giant chess sets are particularly funny, but at the thought of the library instead having a giant Jenga set in the lobby with librarians rushing over to shush the loser each time a giant Jenga tower came crashing down on the tile floor.

Now, why would a tourist like me visit a library? It’s a nine story tall building and I wanted to see the view from the balcony at the top.

San Diego Central Library

Unfortunately it’s… well… not a very interesting view up there. In the background you can see the insanely tall San Diego–Coronado Bridge. On the left there’s a huge parking lot, in the middle there’s trolley tracks leading to the 12th & Imperial Transit Center, and on the right you can see the dome from the inside and some buildings down below. That’s about it.

There are tables on the balcony for outdoor reading, or if you prefer quiet and less wind you can walk through a set of doors and down a flight of stairs to the reading room. The view’s just as good from in there with floor to ceiling windows.