Turning the page: Clearfield saying goodbye to 46-year-old library as new building opens

Digital Exclusives

Courtesy of Davis County Libraries

CLEARFIELD, Utah (ABC4) – When Mel Lindsay heads to her job as a children’s librarian at the Davis County North Branch Library, she never knows what the day will bring.

For the most part, she spends her days as a storyteller of children’s books, enthralling her audience with the works of authors like Jacqueline Woodson and Mo Willems. Her latest reading of Ryan T. Higgins’ book, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, a story of a young dinosaur who joins a school of human children provides several valuable lessons – most notably, you shouldn’t gobble up your classmates if you’re a dinosaur attending a human school.

“We try and do a lot of fun books. I try and mix it up with short and long ones because we have different age groups,” Lindsay tells ABC4.com. “We sing lots of songs, do different rhymes, and often end up doing the Hokey Pokey to get some wiggles out.”

After shaking herself and the kids all about – after all, that’s what it’s all about – Lindsay and her co-workers frequently find themselves helping their patrons in many ways. Serving one of the most diverse populations in Davis County, all kinds of folks with all kinds of needs come into the library to get help with any number of things.

“We are a community center, we really are,” she explains. “We help people who just moved into the area, we tell them our grocery stores are, we help people email things. I’ve helped people on applying for divorce, applying for citizenship, getting books to start renting out a place, whatever they’re interested in or whatever’s going on in their lives.”

Lindsay calls the library, located just two blocks away from Clearfield High School, a “resource hub.” However, the old building, which was opened in 1975, has struggled to keep up with the modern amenities that a library would typically have in the digital age. Davis County Library Director Josh Johnson explains a change was needed.

“It’s like an old glove, right? It’s comfortable, it fits, it does what it needs to do,” Johnson, who worked at the branch as its manager earlier in his career. “But there were some challenges with some of the systems, it’s a building that was built and opened in the 70s that is trying to provide internet and other modern services that libraries are sort of expected to provide at this point.”

After 46 years of operation, the book will shut on the North Branch building on Oct. 1.

The good news is, the community won’t be long without a state-of-the-art replacement. The new library, which will be dubbed as the Davis County Clearfield Library, is set to open on the 23rd of the same month, a few blocks away.

Courtesy of Davis County Libraries

The new building, which will be shaped like an airplane wing as a tribute to its proximity to the Hill Air Force Base, will still be well-stocked with plenty of books (it is a library, after all) but will also be well equipped for the digital age.

Johnson and Lindsay both say they’re excited to provide their patrons with services like technology rentals – such as 3D printers, tablets, and laptops – as well as provide additional spaces for group and community meetings.

Lindsay however, jokes that the bomb shelter, which was installed when the building was constructed during the Cold War, will be missed by the patrons who find humor in the notice on the side of the library.

According to Johnson, the new library is expected to last for the next 50 years, about as long as the old one stood and served the community. The project couldn’t have been made possible without the help of many, including Deputy Director Lynnette Mills, who took charge of the project and saw it through its construction during the pandemic.

“I was working on the project, then I became Director and she took it over and she’s run with it and has been an integral part of that,” Johnson boasts of Mills. “I mentioned this at our last board meeting, I don’t mind who knows that. She’s been really fantastic.”

While it will be exciting for Johnson and his team to throw open the doors to the new, mostly glass, extremely tech-friendly library, but there will be some fond memories of the old building and the stories that were told and shared there.

“It will be bittersweet. That was where I was first branch manager and I liked the patrons there. But I do think it’s a good move…I think we’re excited about the move, but there’s always the opportunity to look back and say that we were here.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates

IN FOCUS

More In Focus

Justice Files

More Justice Files