5 Reasons You Need to Visit the Salt Lake City Public Library

It only takes a moment to understand why the Salt Lake City Public Library is one of the most beautiful public libraries in the US. Here are five reasons you need to visit…

I spend a lot of time in Salt Lake City. But since my travel is for work, I don’t often get to do or see much when I’m visiting the Crossroads of the West. On my most recent trip, I finally got to chip away at my list of things to do in Salt Lake City with a trip to the Salt Lake City Public Library.

You may be thinking, “Wait, are you telling me to actually take time away from skiing the greatest snow on earth, hiking heavenly trails, and otherwise exploring Salt Lake City to go visit a public library?”

Yes.  Yes, I am.

It only takes 15 to 30 minutes to admire the architecture, take in phenomenal views, and descend the walkable wall.  And, I promise it’s worth every second.

Fun Fact:  The Salt Lake City Public Library made this list of the 12 Most Beautiful Libraries in the US.

Here are five reasons you need to visit the Salt Lake City Public Library:

1. Amazing Architecture

Designed by internationally-acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie — the brilliant talent behind the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas — the Salt Lake City Public Library opened in February 2003. With curved glass walls instead of traditional brick and mortar, it’s quite a spectacular sight.

Fun Fact:  If the Salt Lake City Public Library gives you a twinge of deja vu, that could be because the downtown Vancouver Public Library was designed by the same architect. 

The Salt Lake City Public Library isn’t just beautiful, it’s also eco-friendly. With 176,368 square feet of glass, the building leverages natural light, reducing the amount of electricity needed. There’s also a “lens” on the south side of the building that helps warm the library during winter, reducing the fossil fuels needed for heat. Adjacent to the Children’s Library is Crystal Cave with gentle waterfalls that cool the area in the warmer months.

Pro Tip:  If you arrive at the Salt Lake City Public Library by car, parking in the underground garage is free for the first 30 minutes.

The Urban Room

This five-story, open, airy space is called the Urban Room. It connects the community spaces under the walkable wall (on the left side of this photo) with the books and other materials located in the main library building (on the right side of this photo).

The Urban Room at the Salt Lake City Public Library
The Urban Room at the Salt Lake City Public Library

A large sculpture of nearly 1,500 books and butterflies hangs in the Urban Room.

Psyche is a large, hanging sculpture of books and butterflies at the Salt Lake City Public Library.
The words featured in more than 20 languages on “Psyche”, the hanging sculpture in the Urban Room, are from the universal declaration of human rights.

 

2. A Quiet Place to Chill

And plan the rest of your time in Salt Lake City.

With coffee.

Grab a cup of java from the Salt Lake Roasting Company and relax with one of the Salt Lake City Public Library’s more than half a million books, reference materials, or periodicals. The Browsing Library right next to the coffee shop features the most popular books and magazines. Or, you can get online via one of more than 160 computers throughout the building.

Fun Fact:  There is a “secret staircase” that connects the Salt Lake Roasting Company to the Young Adult’s Section of the Salt Lake City Public Library.

Walls of windows at the Salt Lake City Public Library
Walls of windows and natural light make the Salt Lake City Public Library an ideal reading, studying, and meeting spot.

The library is designed to provide increasingly quiet spaces as you rise from the bustling ground floor level to the upper floors making it easy for you to select a space with the ideal decibels for the task at hand.

 

Another airy, open, well-lit place to read or relax at the Salt Lake City Public Library
Another airy, open, well-lit place to read or relax at the Salt Lake City Public Library

Pro Tip:  If you have the time, participate in a scheduled event or stroll through art exhibits currently on display.

 

3. Rooftop Terrace with Panoramic Views

Once you’re fully caffeinated, climb the spiral staircase or take one of three glass elevators to the top floor to observe active beehives, wander through the rooftop garden, and see panoramic views of Salt Lake City.

Pro Tip:  Weather permitting, pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the tables on the rooftop terrace.

Before you step out onto the rooftop terrace, look to your right to view active beehives through a glass partition. Joining other rooftop beehives around the world, like the one atop the Paris Opera House, the beehives were added to the Salt Lake City Public Library in 2010.

Beehives are on display on the rooftop terrace of the Salt Lake City Public Library
Peeking out at the beehive on the top floor of the Salt Lake City Public Library. Photo courtesy of this YouTube video.

Walking through the double glass doors out onto the Rooftop Terrace, you’ll immediately understand why it’s considered one of the gems of Salt Lake City. Surrounded by trees, bulbs, and perennial flowers, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Wasatch Mountains, the Salt Lake City skyline, and the Salt Lake Valley.

View of the mountains from the Salt Lake City Public Library
A mountain view awaits you at the top of the Salt Lake City Public Library

Pro Tip:  Enjoy live music on the Library’s Rooftop Terrace on select Wednesday nights in July and August.

 

4. Six-Story, Crescent-Shaped, Walkable Wall

Continue your visit to the Salt Lake City Public Library by descending the curving, walkable wall.

Walking down the curved wall of the Salt Lake City Public Library

While it may sound like a strenuous activity — walking down a six-story building — the steps are widely-spaced making it more like a ramp with an occasional step. 

Walking down the six-story curved wall of the Salt Lake City Public Library
From entering the rooftop terrace to walking down the curved wall, you’ll experience a 360-degree view of the Salt Lake City Library.

 

5. Outdoor Plaza

While it was already winterized when I visited, the library grounds include water features, gardens, and plenty of places to enjoy the outdoor plaza.

Salt Lake City Public Library
A view of the walkable wall and water feature courtesy of Shutterstock

Once winter melts into spring, I hope to go back and see the Salt Lake City Public Library and all of its magnificent views in a different season!

What about you?

Have you visited the Salt Lake City Public Library? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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