Ogden, Utah 84401
Route 603 - Weber State University.
- Monday: 10 am - 9 pm
- Tuesday: 10 am - 9 pm
- Wednesday: 10 am - 9 pm
- Thursday: 10 am - 9 pm
- Friday: 10 am - 6 pm
- Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm
- Sunday: 1 pm - 5 pm
The Main Library reopened April 4, 2018, after being shut down for eighteen months to accommodate a massive renovation. The reopening marked a double cause for celebration. The date was also the fifty-year observance of the original dedication of one of the most distinctive buildings in northern Utah.
Originally designed by John L. Piers and constructed by Hogan Tingey, the renovation was entrusted to EDA Architects and Wadman Construction Company. Original furnishings were designed by the famous teams of Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson and manufactured by Herman Miller. Henriksen/Butler Design Group worked with the Library administrators to match these distinctive styles as new trapping were procured to complete the Library upgrade. Although the building still revels its original new formalism architectural style and grand appointments, it is completely new again as state-of-the-art upgrades were very strategically integrated into the facility.
The Main Library renovation began with a 2012 Feasibility Study. Architects and engineers hired to evaluate the building found, after almost 50 years of service that accommodated more than 21,000,000 visits, the infrastructure was so worn out that it was on the verge of “catastrophic failure.” The feasibility study also noted that renovation of the Main Library would be less expensive than building the same square footage new at another location. Voters authorized issuing general obligation bonds to fund the massive upgrades required, including asbestos abatement and complete demolition of the entire building infrastructure.
Vacating the building and eventually closing it to the public was undertaken in stages. The first stage, the process of closing the third floor, began during October 2015 and took five months to complete. Books were moved from the third floor to the second floor and public computers were relocated in staff reference and work areas. During this first phase, special collections and archive materials, located on both the first and third floors, were moved to the old Southwest Branch and the new Headquarters Library for safekeeping.
Once the third floor was closed, the second stage was undertaken. It focused primarily on moving the Administration offices and Support Services areas, including the entire data center, to the new Headquarters Library. When the second stage was completed, the first floor was closed to the public. As each floor closed, Thermal West Industrial began the demolition and asbestos abatement process. Once the abatement and demolition were completed in an area, the general contractor began preparations for putting the building back together.
On November 11, 2016, the entire library was closed to the public and the third phase, consisting of moving all the remaining furniture, equipment, and collections into storage, was undertaken. While service at Main was unavailable to the public, the Library Board ran a free, seven day a week, shuttle service from the bus stop at the corner of 25th Street and Jefferson Avenue to both the Pleasant Valley Branch in Washington Terrace and the Southwest Branch in Roy. The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) donated shuttle buses for this purpose and Library employees served as drivers.
Library staff put their backs as well as their diverse talents into every phase of the renovation project, taking care and responsibility for repositioning the books and shelving, furniture and equipment, and almost 50 years of accumulated resources, from one floor to another, or moving them out of the building to other locations. The staff took on this herculean task themselves in order to preserve as much of the available funding as possible for the building upgrade.
As the general contractor finished the renovations floor-by-floor, employees undertook the fourth and final phase of the colossal project, consisting of moving all the furniture and collections back into their new home and reinstalling communications and technology equipment. It is estimated that the moving done to by Library employees during both the renovation of Main and the North Branch, as well as the move out of the old Southwest Branch and into the new Southwest Branch/Headquarters Library, saved taxpayers a minimum of $1,500,000.
Once the building was vacated and stripped to its basic core, the structure was seismically braced to withstand potential earthquakes, a new membrane roof was installed, and the parking lot was expanded. Next came repairing leaks in the building foundation.
The Library sits in an “underground lake” and is constructed like a bathtub, except that waterproofing is designed to keep dampness on the outside, rather than the other way around. The almost 50-year-old waterproofing was failing, and dampness had started seeping into the archives area. During renovation, a moat was dug around the perimeter of the building and large pumps ran 24-hours a day to extract groundwater so workers could replace the foundation waterproofing and connect new sewer lines.
Another noteworthy enhancement was installation of the beautiful acoustical ceilings that now run uninterrupted from one end of the building to the other and flow out to connect visually with the monumental soffit. Difficult to install with hundreds of intricately placed LED lights, but with the benefit of being able to be cleaned and maintained throughout the life of the building, the perforated gypboard produced in Germany is the largest installation of its kind in the United States.
Newly invented spaces at the Main Library include a teen center; new east entrance that ties the library to Lester Park; and an outdoor sunken garden, commons, and performance area. The facility also sports expanded areas for children and preteens that feature tabletop computers, interactive floors and wall exhibits, and greatly enhanced collections of books and other educational materials.
Built to accommodate learning in all its forms, the Main Library now hosts more than 100 public computers with access to the Internet, dozens of value-added databases, and special applications software. Art exhibit space, and multiple meeting rooms, ranging from a large auditorium to smaller classrooms and a community activity center, round out new attractions. All meeting rooms have a robust technology infrastructure and are available free of charge to not-for-profit groups, and for a rental fee to others. A café is located near the front entrance of the Library to provide food and beverages for hungry visitors and is available to cater for events held in library gathering spaces.
An expansive new literacy center is a focal point for Library classes and offers both group and one-on-one learning opportunities. A data commons and budding makerspace provide community members with opportunities to enhance their digital literacy skills. The American Library Association recognizes that “Literacy is more today than just being able to read and write. Literacy now requires the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.” The Library is prepared with the flexible training spaces and technology infrastructure needed to support teaching literacy in all its forms.
One of the most stunning enhancements to the Library was the addition of a lighted sculpture in the central atrium area. The work was commissioned by an anonymous donor and produced by Gary Vlasic in collaboration with Prescott Muir Architects. The shafts of light extend from the ceiling on the third floor through an open atrium and into the overhead space on the ground level. The sculpture is quickly becoming an artistic icon in Ogden City. The main lobby is further enhanced by a floor-to-ceiling display case available to host community exhibits.
The Utah Heritage Foundation considers the Main Library to be “one of Utah’s finest examples of modern architecture.” In 2004, the Foundation presented the Weber County Library Board of Trustees with an award for “making stewardship of this remarkable building one of their highest priorities.” True to form, the Board ensured that every care was taken during the renovation project. The integrity of John Piers’ original design was designed while integrating the flexible spaces and technologies necessary for the facility to serve members of the community as a future-facing, lifelong learning platform. At the Utah Heritage Foundation’s behest, the process will soon be underway to have the Main Library added to the National Register of Historic Places.