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SLC Public Library considering opening 24 hours a day

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Posted at 7:41 PM, Nov 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-26 23:49:12-05

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.