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The Weber County Library System took advantage of the extra day this leap year to unveil their newest branch and home to their regional Headquarters Library at 2039 W. 4000 South in Roy.
The new brick and glass building, in a large park setting, features 52,000 square feet of space for patrons, including multiple seating areas and meeting rooms, a cafe, black box theater and gallery space. In addition, a 20,000-square-foot mezzanine, where support services are located, overlooks a spacious area with ample room for the branch’s collection of physical material.
Prescott Muir Architects (PMA) was selected through a competitive bidding process to design and oversee construction of the Headquarters/Southwest Branch Library which cost some $45 million to construct. As the architects for Weber County’s Ogden Valley and Pleasant Valley branches, PMA is well versed in designing “third place libraries,” says Lynnda Wangsgard, director of the Weber County Library system. She explains:
“Our first place is our home, if we are lucky enough to have one. Our second place is usually our work or school. Our third place is where we go to engage our community. Third place libraries recognize that learning is often a social activity where people come together to teach as well as to learn. Third place libraries are flexible, comfortable, and welcoming to everyone.”
A major focus of the new branch, as in many libraries, is children, with numerous features meant to attract them. One is a marvelous carved wooden whale sculpture acquired from the San Francisco Academy of Sciences. Whales are “favorites of children,” Wangsgard observes, “who revere these living creatures with the same awe they usually reserve only for dinosaurs.”
“The Gallery at Southwest” has more than 200 linear feet of exhibit space, as well as a 20-foot glass exhibit case. Gallery lighting augments the natural light that falls through clerestory windows, Wangsgard tells us.
Hyunmee Lee was chosen to provide the opening exhibit because she was selected by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums to receive their 2015 Fellowship Award for Visual Arts Excellence. “Her work,” says Wangsgard,”graces corporate and private collections on three continents.”
Suzanne Storer’s ceramics were selected “because of her unique ability to capture the human image. Her portrait plates evoke deep feelings and are inspirational in their ability to bring out both the ordinary and extraordinary in each of us,” Wangsgard states.
Storer was a 2015 semifinalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
The show runs until the end of April.
While the new branch has been open just over a week, Wangsgard says it has been visited by an average of 1,000 people a day who have borrowed more than 10,000 books. “Community members have frequented the facility to have lunch in the library cafe, and attend programs that have ranged from exercise classes to political meetings; from children’s discovery times, to poetry slams. It is already working beautifully as a third place library.”
A graduate of the University of Utah, Ann Poore is a freelance writer and editor who spent most of her career at The Salt Lake Tribune. She also worked for Salt Lake City Weekly and has written for such publications as Utah Business Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine.