March 17, 2018

A Moving Target | One Cool Thing

When UTAH’s Park City Library closed for renovations for 12 to 15 months in May 2014, staff had the usual big question to answer: What do we do with the materials? In Park City, the situation was particularly challenging because there were no branches to which materials could be moved and no buildings in the city large enough to house the complete collection. Staying open during the renovation proved impossible. However, the town’s 8,500 residents—and some three million visitors, attracted by skiing and the Sundance Film Festival—still needed access.

The Park City council voted to re­locate the library temporarily to the old Miners Hospital, which had contained the library from 1982 to 1993. Explains Bobbie Pyron, member of the Park City Library Board of Trustees, “We knew it would hold less than half of the library’s current collections.” Popular items, movies, and a substantial portion of the collection went to the hospital location.

CAN’T BEAT CITY HALL The temporary library in Park City’s city hall attracts employees and visitors alike

CAN’T BEAT CITY HALL The temporary library in Park City’s city hall attracts employees and visitors alike

Meet them where they are

In city meetings, I began discussing what could be done with the remaining materials. City manager Diane Foster immediately caught the vision of creating minilibraries in a number of public buildings around the city, not only saving the cost of storage but engaging members of the public with books as they came and went from public facilities. Foster was pleased. “City staff rallied behind the library with a number of our departments, from the ice rink to the recreation center, expressing a willingness to have books in their locations and make them accessible to the public.”

City and library staff determined that the walls of city hall provided the best space for installing bookshelves. In addition, it provided the necessary security, power, and data for a self-checkout machine to be installed.

“As people come and go to apply for permits and use other city services, this is now a place where they can also get books,” said Mayor Jack Thomas. “For me, it is easy to get caught up in the enjoyable experience of looking at all the titles, seeing things I have already read and items I now want to read. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get down the corridor to my office. I’m going to hate to see the books go when the renovation is complete. Everyone who comes in seems to enjoy it.”

“People are exploring books in unexpected ways,” said Polly Samuels McLean, who works in the city attorney’s office. “I enjoy taking books home to my kids at night, and our staff tend to come out of their offices and have interesting conversations about the materials they find.”

Brooke Moss, Park City human resources manager, took a fun and humorous approach to exploring the collections with daily posts to her Facebook page called, “Thanks Library in the Hallway!” One such post (quoted with permission) read: “I work in Park City’s City Hall building. They are renovating the Library in our City, and have brought tons of books and put them in our hallways. I am in heaven! Today I am reading “Why Sh*t Happens: The science of a really bad day”. Apparently, if you go 7 days without sleep you will literally go insane. We are all 7 days away from madness. Sometimes I feel much closer…I will be learning cool stuff all year long. Thanks library in the hallway!”

By request

The remaining items were stored in the town’s old fire station. These are not directly available to the public, but library staff fill requests, which are delivered to the Miners Hospital location within 24 to 48 hours.

It took extra work to install shelving in various buildings, change materials holdings codes in the database to indicate where items were situated, and pull materials from the various facilities each day for patron requests. Still, the payoff has been even better than we could have imagined.

Moving forward

The newly renovated library will open on June 13, 2015, with expanded children’s and teen areas, a new entrance and coffee shop, a digital media lab, a Maker space, airy browsing areas, living room–style reading nooks, flexible use areas, more community gathering places, expanded collections, increased digital resources, and a fireplace. The community is eager to start using what promises to be a dynamic new library, but “The Library in the Hallway” will always be fondly remembered.

Adriane Herrick Juarez is Director of the Park City Library, UT

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.