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Among the hundreds who turned out for the opening of the Glendale Branch of the Salt Lake City Library on Saturday, no one was more excited than the branch manager.

"We've been here unpacking books by ourselves for a couple months," said Brooke Young. "So it's exciting to finally get people in the building."

It takes a couple of months to unpack a million dollars worth of books, DVDs, CDs and more. And it took decades for what Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker called the "long-awaited and long overdue" branch to go from the talking and planning stages to the gleaming, open-concept building that was packed with patrons the moment the ceremonial ribbon cutting was completed.

"I see a lot of opportunities," said 14-year-old Julia Zamora, one of three ribbon-cutters from nearby Glendale Middle School. "I'll be coming here a lot for movies, books, probably research. I think it will help me with school."

At approximately 20,000 square feet, the Glendale building is the city's largest branch library. It's also the most open, according to library executive director John Spears, to create a "true community space."

"It's been designed and built to reflect the needs, the aspirations and the incredible diversity of the Glendale community," he said.

"You couldn't go to a backyard barbecue without talking to an architect about what should be in this building," said City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa.

The throng that turned out on Saturday, which ranged from young parents carrying infants to senior citizens in wheelchairs, saw a very different library than one that would have been built 10 years ago. There are the automated return areas — one inside and one outside — that read a barcode, check the item in and deposit it in the correct bin to be returned to the proper shelf. There are 38 computers — the most of any Salt Lake City branch library — including several that are reserved for teenagers to use.

What you won't find is the massive information desk familiar at most libraries.

"Our current reference desks are on wheels, so if we decide to change how everything goes, we can," Young said. "Everything is really changeable and flexible in this building. Some of the bookshelves are even on wheels, so if we decide to change everything we can — without it costing $40,000.

"But more importantly, I think the thing that makes it a 21st-century library has nothing to do with the technology. We have more meeting spaces than any other location. We really hope that it gives the community a focal point — that it gives people a place to meet, a place to hang out and a place to really be proud of."

And plans are already underway to coordinate with the Community Learning Center at Glendale Middle School and with the Sorenson Unity Center, both within walking distance of the new library.

"We really hope that we can tap into a lot of the existing community networks that have already started to grow and bolster those," Young said.

The idea is to enhance Glendale as a "livable community," said Becker, adding that he hopes the branch is a "catalyst for not only learning" but for strengthening the community.

"Our future has never been more promising in Glendale," LaMalfa said.

Twitter @ScottDPierce Glendale Branch Library

1375 S. Concord (1240 West)

Approximately 20,000 square feet

Construction cost — $4.2 million

Approximately 44,000 items (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.)

Cost of books, CDs, DVDs, etc — approximately $1 million

38 computer stations

Open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m.

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