Salt Lake County Library offers free period products at all branches

Jun 24, 2024, 10:10 AM | Updated: Jul 9, 2024, 12:18 pm

A new dispenser in the Salt lake County Library Granite Branch offers patrons free period products....

A new dispenser in the Salt lake County Library Granite Branch offers patrons free period products. All of the library's branches will have the products, thanks to a grant. (Rebecca Baker)

(Rebecca Baker)

SALT LAKE CITY — When you walk into a public restroom, it’s reasonable to expect some things — toilet paper, clean water, somewhere you can dry your hands.

“Part of that normative restroom experience should also be having period products,” said Rebecca Baker, assistant manager at the Salt Lake County Library’s Granite Branch.

All 18 branches of the county library system now provide free tampons and pads in women’s and unisex restrooms, and Baker says this change makes the difference between patrons staying to utilize library services or going home.

“Working in libraries, we see a lot of how inequities affect our patrons and how libraries can bridge the gap,” she said.

Around 26% of the global population menstruates. In Utah, 1 in 9 women and girls between the ages of 12 and 44 live below the federal poverty line, making period products a potential strain on family budgets.

Baker got excited about providing free period products when she read about HB162, a 2022 Utah law that required public and charter schools to provide free period products to students.

Utah government buildings and the Salt Lake airport were also starting to offer free period products.

Baker knew there was a need for hygiene products in libraries, too. Prior to the project, library branches didn’t even have paid product dispensers. Several branches had mentioned patrons asking for pads at the reference desk — and there were probably countless more who needed them but didn’t ask.

“There’s still embarrassment around asking for hygiene items,” Harris said. “There’s no reason to be embarrassed.”

These products aren’t just for school-aged girls menstruating for the first time — they also benefit people dealing with postpartum leaks, incontinence or menopause.

Baker worked with library administration to apply for a grant to provide free period products. Through the Library Services and Technology Act, the Institute of Museum of Library Services provided $20,300, which was administered by the Utah State Library Division.

Bottom line: No Utah taxpayer dollars were used for the project.

It was enough cash to install all of the period product dispensers and keep them stocked for at least a year, maybe two.

Since product dispensers were installed in the Granite Branch two weeks ago, Baker has restocked 160 pads and 70 tampons.

“It’s a silent need,” she said. Occasionally, a patron will come up to the reference desk and thank a librarian for the free service, but for the most part, patrons just gratefully — and quietly — take what they need.

KSL 5 TV Live


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning Friday about a deadly multistate...

Jen Christensen, CNN

Two dead in multistate listeria outbreak linked with sliced deli meat, CDC says

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning Friday about a deadly multistate listeria outbreak connected to deli meat.

2 hours ago

FILE - Children cool off at the Hamilton Fish pool, July 18, 2017, in the Lower East Side neighborh...

Tom Murphy, AP Health Writer

Do you really have to wait to go swimming after eating?

Did your parents warn you against jumping in the pool right after eating? They were misguided.

5 hours ago

University of Utah's Long COVID clinic, which opened in 2021. (KSL TV)...

Brianna Chavez

More than 3,000 patients treated at University of Utah Long COVID Clinic since 2021, cases ‘still around’

In March 2020 Crystal Pederson tested positive for COVID-19. Months after she questioned why she wasn't feeling any better, until she was treated at University of Utah's Long COVID Clinic.

2 days ago

crayons in a box...

Aley Davis

Siblings can expedite learning opportunities both academically and emotionally

Formal learning may be on break for the summer, but experts tell parents to not overlook the powerful lessons siblings can teach each other at home.

2 days ago

Seniors exercise at River’s Bend Senior Center in Salt Lake County. (KSL TV)...

Dan Spindle

Positively 50+: Salt Lake County helping ‘enhance fitness’ for better health

The National Institutes of Health noted in a recent study that nearly a quarter of all adults worldwide are inactive, meaning they just don’t move enough or get any exercise.

2 days ago

President Joe Biden, here in Las Vegas, on July 16, has tested positive for COVID-19.  (Kent Nishim...

Donald Judd and Sam Fossum, CNN

President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19

President Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid-19, according to the president and CEO of UnidosUS Janet Murguía.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Salt Lake County Library offers free period products at all branches