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The City Journals

Take your child to the library and join a crowd of 4 million

Mar 06, 2018 10:50AM ● By Josh Wood

Take Your Child to the Library Day was Feb. 3 at the Salt Lake County Library System. (Joshua Wood/City Journals)

Feb. 3 was Take Your Child to the Library Day at the Salt Lake County Library System. The sight of parents reading books with their children, little ones huddled around computer screens and tables filled with readers looked a lot like a typical busy Saturday at Whitmore Library — with a little added festivity.

Sometimes the best things around us are those that we take for granted or maybe never really notice. All around Salt Lake County is a resource that its residents can enjoy, something that enriches thousands of lives. The Salt Lake County Library System might not be the first thing people think of when citing the many merits of the community, but it has become a resource that many would not want to live without.

“We hear from people who have moved out of the county saying they wish they still lived in the area so they could access the library system,” said Liz Sollis, communications manager for the county library system. “Fortunately, they can purchase a card and still enjoy what we have to offer.”

The reach of the Salt Lake County Library System is impressive, and much more extensive than one might think. With 18 branches, the system is accessible throughout the area. The combined holdings of all these locations means the system as a whole possesses an impressive collection.

“The County Library System has over 2 million items,” said James D. Cooper, director of the Salt Lake County Library System. “Since so many items can’t be housed in one location, items can be transferred to any branch. So patrons visiting any location have access to all 2 million.”

The library offers many programs for children, including Take Your Child to the Library Day. Libraries celebrated with story time and stickers.

Other programs for children include Harry Potter activities where children can have a safe, fun place to enjoy games and celebrations, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) events for little ones, offering hands-on learning and experiments.

“The kids’ programs help little ones learn to read and socialize,” said Sollis. “We also have teen programs, family activities, writers’ groups for teens and adults and magic for kids where magicians come to the library to perform, juggle and do tricks.” The library has also had a program for refugees.

So how many people take advantage of all these offerings?

“We have 4 million visitors to the Salt Lake County Library System every year,” said Cooper. “Between 13.5 million and 14 million items are checked out each year. That many items would pile higher than the SpaceX rocket just went.”

The library aims to not only reach many people, but to give them quality experiences. “Our goal is to provide engaging and inspiring activities to our patrons,” Cooper said.

“Our activities are available to everyone,” said Sollis. “We offer digital resources in addition to the physical books in our collection. Children can get their own library cards that allow a child to check out three items at a time.” A regular library card allows each card holder to check out up to 50 items at a time.

From children’s story time to programs at the county jail, the Salt Lake County Library System reaches people throughout the community with valuable resources. Activities like Take Your Child to the Library Day help to get people started at a young age. Judging by the number of visitors the library system enjoys each year, many will keep coming back.