Carnegie Library Series: Making the Garland Carnegie Library an exciting place to visit

Kelli Westergard librarian checks in books at the Garland Carnegie Library.

GARLAND – The Garland Carnegie Library, located at 86 West Factory Street, opened in 1914. Garland was settled by David Manning and later became a company town when William Garland built a sugar factory for the Utah Sugar Company. It opened in 1903.

Assistant Library Director Stephanie Matthews holds a photograph taken on the opening day of the Garland Carnegie Library dated 1914.

The company donated land to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a ward chapel and amusement hall. Garland built 14 homes, a hotel, and other buildings.

Some of the original buildings are still standing. The empty buildings housed a general store, a bank, a post office, and a newspaper office. There is even an abandoned movie theater, furniture factory and a candy store.

By the 1920s there were other merchants and a flour mill.

The library has not been significantly modified since it opened 106 years ago, said Tate Atkin, the library director. The Garland Library was one of 1,600 built in the United States and is one of 10 Carnegie Library buildings still being used as a library in Utah.

There is an original photograph of townspeople in front of the library building at its opening in 1914. It is one of the few original buildings still being used as it was when the sugar factory was in full swing. Like most of the libraries in smaller communities, it has not changed much over the years. They do have florescent lighting.

Librarian Kelli Westergard and Assistant Library Director Stephanie Matthews sort the mail at the Garland Carnegie Library recently.

The shelves are the same as when the building was constructed and there have been no major changes to the architecture.

“If you told me I was going to work in a library, I would have called you crazy,” Atkin said. ”I wasn’t much of a reader. I got here by teaching Spanish.”

He said he started teaching Spanish as a second language five years ago, things happened, and today he leads the show.

“Things have changed since I’ve been working here,” he said. “We have digital books, as many as eight computers, free Wi-Fi, and virtual headsets people can come in and play with.”

There has been a shift to the digital and that may be why there has been a dip in attendance, he said.

“Attendance should change as we move into the future of technology,” Atkin said. “The library has become less of a book exchange and more of a community resource.”

The Garland Carnegie Library has not changed much over the years. While other buildings and businesses in the once bustling town have closed the library is happening place.

There is a lot going on, we have reading programs for children of all ages

“Our goal is to get more people reading. We have an online book club,” Atkin said. “The library is offering more classes in things like computer coding.”

He said the library is a place where people can come in and get information, and as a staff they are trying to make it a fun and safe place to go and hang out for kids and teens.

”There is not a lot for kids to do around here; we want to be an exciting place for people to come visit.”

Atkin is currently working on getting handicapped access to the building.

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