On March 25, an abnormally bitter cold, late March day did little to discourage over 400 patrons of the Spanish Fork City Library to form a “Book chain on Main” to carry books from the old library to the new one directly across the street.
Members of the human chain were loaded with stacks of books and all other forms of media inside the old library and directed across a section of Main Street to the new library.
Library director Scott Aylett said that this unique opportunity was a way for patrons to give back and to get a sneak peak at the brand new facility.
“Ever since we announced that we would be moving to a new library, we’ve had patrons ask if there will be opportunities to help with the move,” Aylett said. “One way that was often suggested was walking books across Main Street from the old building to the new one.”
Aylett explained that when the book chain was suggested, he thought it was really cool, but didn’t know how it would logistically happen – especially given the fact that patrons, including many children, would need to cross a busy road on a seasonally busy day.
“One of the complexities of Main Street is that it is a UDOT road,” he said. “There was that complexity of having to work with UDOT, who was great to work with, but it’s just an added level of difficulty. … We had to do it early in the morning because it was the same day as the Color Festival and we had to have Main Street back open before 9 a.m. when traffic was starting to build and increase due to the festival.”
Why the move?
The original library was built in 1965 to serve a community of about 7,000 residents, and has been through several renovations and expansions. According to Aylett, the growth of community was what ultimately caused the need for a new facility.
“Our current building was originally just upstairs on the main floor of the library, but as the community grew over time, the basement was opened up, and the building was renovated,” Aylett explained. “Originally, there was 6,000 square feet, but the renovation in the 1990’s added another 6,000 square feet. The building right now is 12,000 square feet.
“Today we have a population of 45,000 residents, and to still operate a building that was built almost 60 years ago when the population was a fraction of what it is today – we have just outgrown the space. We maximized the amount of materials that we could fit on our shelves, our program space was really limited, and we could only hold one program a day and it was really packed. Oftentimes we get 50-60 kids that want to come to story time and we just can’t accommodate that many in our program room.”
A new library to meet the needs of today
Aylett said that with all of the new space, it will not only make room for materials, but allow for space to accommodate the many different programs the library has to offer.
“The library that I grew up going to isn’t the library of today, where it was very focused on circulating books and that type of thing,” Aylett explained. “Certainly that is still our bread and butter – being a place for the public to access information – but libraries have also evolved. Story times are really popular for us, and we provide a variety of different activities for children as young as babies all the way up through teenagers. We have different story times throughout the day to help teach early literacy and the love for reading.
“We provide after school activities for teenagers to come and have a safe place to be after school and they can learn different skills or activities through STEAM which is science, technology, engineering, arts and math. We also offer programs for adults whether it be a crochet class or a chess club, and also work with other organizations like the Utah County Health Department that comes and teaches lock courses, smoking cessation or working with Utah State University Extension that teaches gardening classes, cooking classes and things of that nature.
“The library really is more than just a place where you come and get books; it’s a place where we build community, and members come together to learn and grow and be entertained and build connections with other members of their community.”
While the library is currently closed until the grand opening of the new one, Aylett said that the digital library is still open, and there will be story times offered throughout the community.
“The community is offering pop up story times throughout the community,” he said. “There is a local dance studio that will be hosting a story time. We’re working with the local hospital to hold a story time at other city departments like the fire department and the police department. Patrons and residents can check on our website to see a schedule of those different activities that we will be holding while we’re closed.”
The grand opening for the new Spanish Fork Library is taking place on April 29 at 9:30 a.m., just a little over a year after the initial ground breaking. For more information regarding the new Spanish Fork Library, including community programs and upcoming events, visit links.servedaily.com/sflibrary.
Article by Ariel Higgs and Ari Brown.