This archived article was written by: C. Josie Luke
Officials from the College of Eastern Utah and Price City, librarians from both institutions and a writer from The Eagle newspaper recently took a trip to Salt Lake City to tour the new Salt Lake public library to get ideas to further their look into building a library which would house materials from various facilities in a joint library.
According to the Sun Advocate, this idea of a “super library”, a public and an academic library joining, is not new. Although it is not common in the United States, the idea has been acted upon overseas, especially in Europe.
The local group went to Salt Lake City to tour the new library and discuss ideas with SLC officials who were involved in the building of that library. The SLC officials stressed the idea of including the community in the process, both in the initial decision of whether or not to build and continually throughout the process.
Cliff Coppersmith, vice-president of academics, said, “There’s a lot of interest on the part of the college as well as the local community about having something new, something associated with the college as well as the community.”
In the Sun Advocate article, Barbara Steffee, director of the CEU library, is quoted, “I think it’s a great idea. It would put everything in the location and available to whoever needed it.”
Price City’s Head Librarian, Norma Procarione, is also excited. She has even calculated the number of materials and the square footage needed for the new library. She said what she is most excited about is more space. The Price City library has over 44,000 books and is in need of more space.
The CEU library was originally built in 1968 and remodeled in the mid-90s to address structural problems.
The Price City Library is over 40 years old.
CEU president, Ryan Thomas, who is also excited about the possibility, said, “I think that a joint library offers the opportunity for a joint collection that actually may have the ability to expand the resources that are available. None of us are in a situation here that we can afford a really large collection, but if we were to collaborate in developing a collection, I think we could improve our collection too.
“Anything we can do to encourage the community to be on campus and to feel like this is their campus, I think is something we ought to pursue. As a community college we are absolutely linked to this community and to the other communities we serve and for the communities to have occasion to come on campus, I think is a really grand idea.
“I know that there will be challenges. I recognize that there are differences in the collections between a college collection and a juvenile collection and I’m sure that there will be some issues that we will have to consider, but there’s an incredible climate of cooperation right now between particularly Price, but the other cities in the areas as well, and the county and I think this is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to come together and to work on something that would make this a better place for everyone.”
Coppersmith agrees, “Certainly in more ways than I’ve ever seen before, I think this is a very real possibility in just that you’ve got a lot people in terms of a dialogue. We all agree that we need a library. What’s it going to look like and how we’re going to build it, that’s where we’re at right now, and obviously the most difficult part of that discussion is funding.”
Various entities would be involved in funding the building. Coppersmith explained that what the college would bring to it would be state money to build the building and to provide O&M, operation and maintenance, money to help keep it running. He clarified, “to what extent it would be the college or somebody else helping out, we don’t know at this point.”
He also mentioned looking into getting some grants, but explained that they “might have to get more creative” about the ways they fund the project.
Members of a committee composed of representatives from CEU, Carbon County, Price, East Carbon, local school districts, and others have been considering the idea for some time, but recently, with discussions of a recreational center being built in Carbon County, this idea has become more of a reality.
This latest idea consists of joining the library and the recreation center into a place where the community could come together to enjoy both experiences in one. The building could serve many purposes including serving as a place to have community gatherings.
Thomas finds this idea intriguing. He said, “I think the notion of a recreation facility that is part of a complex, a library and a recreation center, again creates the notion of sort of a community center and a community center tied to a community college just seems to me to be a wonderful kind of fit.
Those people who toured the Salt Lake Library also toured a recreation center in West Valley City. An architect who worked on both the library and the recreation center gave an example of what he thought the building might look like. He also said that communities much smaller than Price, with fewer resources, have done similar things, but this is the first complex of a library and recreation center that he has ever heard of.
Coppersmith explained jokingly, “I know we all have this picture of a little old lady with a bun on her head, you know, quietly sitting in the back some place, but libraries are seen increasingly as economic kinds of things; as social gathering places.”
Procarione is hesitant of getting too excited because of all that continues to need to be done to ensure that this project comes about. She feels like they need to “take the first step” and then things will get rolling.
Coppersmith is more optimistic saying, “I think in the end, when it all comes together, it will probably happen sooner than people might think it could.”