Murray Library is a popular place these days

This is an archived article that was published on in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

More and more residents seem to visit their public libraries when the economy is down, a city official said.

"Libraries are more popular than ever," said Murray Library Director Dan Barr, who has been a librarian for 39 years.

At the Murray Library, business has been maybe the best and busiest it's ever been.

In June, the library checked out more than 46,700 items, which is a monthly circulation record. That's more than one item per person in Murray, where the estimated population is 45,700. People usually check out about 38,000 books, DVDs and CDs per month, records show.

In the past 10 years, the library's circulation has jumped 77 percent.

Barr has some ideas why more people use the Murray Library, including its population increase caused by the 11,000 people who were annexed into the city five years ago and more families using more public and free services and programs during hard financial times. He also sees many people visiting to use the Internet to search for jobs on the library's 20 public computers.

Still, Barr believes the library's $900,000 renovation that was completed last summer has a lot to do with more people visiting the library, which is open to the public but only Salt Lake County residents can check out items.

The library remodel included adding a computer room, a kids' craft room, teen area as well as new furniture, carpet, paint and lighting, he said.

"We tried to make the building less intimidating," said Barr, who's been the library's director for 15 years. "We just tried to open it up to make it easier to get around."

Since the renovation, the library recorded its highest annual circulation of almost half a million items -- a 14 percent increase from the year before, 2008-2009 records show.

Last Friday -- one of the library's slower days -- the computer area was packed. Kids ate their brown-bag lunches during a story-time hour. And some young adults worked on their laptop computers in study cubicles as older folks read magazines in the sun room.

Elaine Rosedahl brought her 7-year-old granddaughter, Jasmine Hayward, for their weekly library visit during the summer to return and check out about 10 books.

"It's close to home, and it's a beautiful library," said Rosedahl, who's lived in Murray for about a year.

Shalena Maalona, 22, and her husband, Mychal Falaniko, have been coming to the library a few times a week for the last month to use the Internet to look for jobs. They said they enjoy the nice atmosphere and building, especially the kids area, but they don't usually bring their daughter because they're busy on the computers.

"It's very useful for me," Maalona said.

If you go

Murray Library

166 E. 5300 South

Phone: 801.264.2580

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

2009 General budget: $1.7 million

2009 Circulation: 464,887 items