LISTEN: The end of libraries?

Jun 16, 2024, 1:59 PM

Image of the newest version of the Salt Lake Main Library....

The Main Library in Salt Lake City is pictured on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — These days, just about everything is electronic, including books. This begs us to ask the question, could we be seeing the end of school and city libraries?

KSL NewsRadio’s host of A Woman’s View Amanda Dickson discussed this topic on the show with three guests. 👇


Ronda Menlow, former state representative and Utah State University administrator said she’s thought a lot about school and city libraries. 

“We have a very small library in Garden City,” Menlow said.

Read more: Libraries are trying to change eBook rental

“It’s become a little piece of the heart of the city where they hold gatherings and bring young children and older children in for activities and families come.”

Menlow said she’s noticed a difference in the way kids view books these days through her own grandchildren.

She said she has a library in her home full of books her family has collected over the years and her and her husband has recently noticed how their grandchildren rarely look at the book.

“They bring their devices that have their books on them. A lot of them are listening to books,” Menlow said. “They listen to books, always. That is the thing they love.”

A place to gather

Menlow went on to talk about how she felt libraries have become an important place for gathering and sharing ideas.

Jill Atwood, communication strategist for the VA and adjunct professor at the University of Utah thought the same.

“I think [libraries] are a gathering place. I think they are still for the mind and the creativity, people coming together,” Atwood said. 

Atwood said she believes libraries are prepared for the digital age.

“I think [librarians have] prepared for this digital age. I think they’ve looked ahead and have known this is coming,” Atwood said.

“You have kids in there playing video games, doing their homework, watching movies together. Folks who maybe don’t have connectivity at home using the computer for job applications. You have musical performances there, workshops, lectures, civic gatherings.”

Atwood also talked about how people who may not know how to use certain electronics can learn by going to the library. She said libraries may look different, but it will always be there.

Homeless people in the libraries

Dickson brought up a problem with the homeless where people who are homeless may come into the library for shelter, and some people don’t like that.

Natalie Gochnour, Associate Dean in the David Eccles School of Business and Director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah had an answer for that problem.

“People have the freedom to walk into a public building and read, use the restrooms, get warm, as it may be,” Gochnour said.

“But I would encourage listeners, if you’re not familiar with Project Human Dignity, become familiar with it.”

Project Human Dignity is Utah’s efforts to tackle the suffering of people who may be homeless, according to Gochnour. 

“We got a plan and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort,” Gochnour said. “That’s how you deal with the library issue, you address the needs of Utah’s homeless population.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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LISTEN: The end of libraries?