Salt Lake City Public Libraries Opening After Year-Long Pandemic Closure

Mar 9, 2021, 6:44 PM | Updated: 9:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With infection rates decreasing and vaccinations increasing, Salt Lake City libraries are opening up again. They’ve been closed for the past year because of COVID-19 concerns.

Even with all its history, you might not know about the Chapman Branch in the Poplar Grove area, just west of Interstate 15 on 900 South. 

“This building is a hundred years old,” said branch director Patty Steed. “It’s the only Carnegie building in Salt Lake City.”

Funded by a grant from the Carnegie Foundation and built in 1918, the library was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

The shelves are original. Same for the windows.

“I’m very proud of this place. I think it’s kind of a secret,” said Steed.

However, sometimes even history could use a little updating. 

Workers were busy installing new internet lines Tuesday in advance of opening Monday for the first time in a year.

“We’re very excited,” said Steed. “We’re excited to see our community back in our space.” 

All Salt Lake City public libraries have been closed because of COVID-19 concerns.

Starting Monday, officials said  the libraries will open again for express service – which means limited browsing, the ability to pick up books on hold, reference help inside, and 60 minutes of internet browsing on the computers.

Steed said she can’t wait. 

“It’s a gathering place and we really do miss our friends in the community,” she said.

Located in Salt Lake City’s west side, the Chapman Branch has served a community as diverse as possibly any other in the city.   

“Both ethnically and economically, and we do what we can and offer services to try and meet the needs of those people,” said Steed.

When the libraries closed last year, Steed said it hurt.

“It’s tough, because we’re real passionate about serving our community,” she said. “It’s been kind of sad for us to not be able to say come on in.”

During the summer, a west side church opened for people just to use the internet.

Many needed it to email others, apply for jobs, or just research topics they’re interested about.

“I correspond with people. I do research. I belong to groups and I do family history,” said Allene Dotson at the time.

Still, there’s nothing like being in your old neighborhood library. In a few days, that old feeling will be new again.

“We think of ourselves as being our community’s living room, so you can come in and be comfortable here. Be safe here,” said Steed.

Only the Sprague Firehouse Express library will remain closed, though people can still use that branch for curbside pickup.

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Salt Lake City Public Libraries Opening After Year-Long Pandemic Closure