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

Posted at 9:45 PM, Dec 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-02 23:45:01-05

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.