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Whitmore Library Reopens

Oct 07, 2015 02:11PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Alison Lafazan

The nature and concept of the “community library” must adapt for the 21st century as the nature of concepts of both books and community are evolving. Books are now much less of a necessity – as nearly every book can be downloaded through Amazon – but the need for public spaces dedicated to archiving and offering the collective knowledge of mankind will never become obsolete. 

Whitmore Library first opened its doors for business back in 1974. Rich Whitmore, with the Whitmore Oxygen Company, donated the land that the library sits on. It was publicized as “Tomorrow’s Library Today.” Filmstrips, framed art, sheet music, maps, calculators and typewriters are just an example of some of things you could borrow from the library when it first opened.

To address the changing needs of Sandy and Cottonwood Heights, Whitmore Library underwent a renovation project, which was recently completed. The library reopened Sept. 2, after four months of renovations, with a grand opening on Sept. 19. 

“It was an internal renovation and it was quite extensive, really just about everything from the ceiling all the way down to the floor,” Whitmore Library Manager Kent Dean said. “On the main level we installed new LED lighting, which really brightened up the place.”

The check-out desk and the information counter were reformulated to make them more accommodating and functional. 

“They’re a lot more streamlined, if you’ll recall the older desks were quite tall and fortress like. We are very proud of these new desks,” Dean said. 

The new desks are much lower, making them more accessible.  Four express check-out stations were added, two near the main check-out desk and two in the children’s area. The “Teen Space” area was increased by about 33 percent. 

“This is especially significant because young adult material, and young adult fiction is a nationwide phenomenon, as well as in Utah,” Dean said. 

Four computers were also installed in the teen area, along with two community tables and booths for teens to gather with their friends. Larger screened computers were installed in the public computer area. 

“This gives a nicer, cleaner look and makes it visually easier for all of our patrons,” Dean said. 

Also new seating areas were installed and outfitted with new furniture in the public areas. An art gallery can be found on the lower level of the library. 

“We have anywhere from nine to twelve exhibits every year,” Dean said. 

A new entrance was added on the north side of the building giving better access to the lower level. There are two conference rooms and a large meeting space downstairs that can be reserved for free.

Today there is a treasure trove of over two million items, including electronic downloadables, system wide for all ages that can be borrowed for free; Whitmore has approximately 170,000 at any given time. They can also borrow items from other libraries to be picked up at Whitmore when requested by patrons. 

“Mango” is an online language program offering Spanish, English, French, Chinese, Russian and Pirate. “Shiver my timbers” is pirate speak for “Holy Cow.”   

With “Hoopla” you can download movies, music and eBooks. “Universal Class” offers online courses in over thirty categories; pet and animal care, accounting, computer training, how to do-it-yourself and web development are just an example of what is offered.

Whitmore Library is still “Tomorrow’s Library Today.” There are books, audiobooks, magazines, movies and music that can be borrowed for electronic devices without ever setting foot in the library.

“We have a vast array of resources and programs, just about every format that you can think of that is relevant today. We just want to make sure we connect with the community on every level and enrich their lives with this resource that is absolutely free,” Dean said. 

Check the library’s website, www.slcolibrary.org, for a calendar of events: visiting authors, Lego Grand Prix, and presentations by the Utah Museum of Natural History are a few examples of what can be found at the local library.

Whitmore Library is located at 2197 E. Ft. Union Blvd.       

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