Salt Lake City library officials, saying they need more volume for their volumes, are proposing holding a bond election to fund a new or expanded main library in the southern downtown area.
"We're running into space problems," library system Executive Director Dennis Day said."We have about 250,000 books in the main library; we really need a capability of storing two to three times that number," he said.
"Our seating capacity is in the area of 210, and we literally need to double that capacity," he added.
Myrna Smith, director of the main library, offered several alternatives to the City Council Thursday, including a new facility at three proposed downtown sites and expanding the current facility at 209 E. Fifth South.
The three sites are on Block 57, bound by State and Main streets and Second and Third South streets, and Block 39 and 40, the two blocks west of the City-County Building, Smith said.
A new 200,000-square-foot building would rest on 2.5 acres of land and include substantial green space surrounding the building and a two-level, 300-stall underground parking garage, Smith said.
Parking is currently a major problem for the library because parking once set aside for the reading public has now been overtaken by city employees, Smith said.
A Block 57 site would possibly be too small, Smith said. A block 39 or 40 site, however, might co-exist well with a judicial complex envisioned in the area by the Regional/Urban Design Assistance, a group of urban planners.
But perhaps the most likely scenario for the library, Smith said, would be expanding the current facilities on Fifth South, possibly into the current circuit court building nearby and using an existing public plaza.
"I think there is a real opportunity for the city for revitalizing that whole plaza," Smith said.
Smith said she envisioned the library controlling the east side of the block and moving administrative facilities into the circuit court building, which the city owns, or building another building on the block.
Smith said a new library would cost $25 million while Day estimated renovating current facilities would cost $6 to $9 million. Smith proposed a bond election be held to finance the improvements.