Magnificent Monticello

Just south of Canyonlands National Park in eastern Utah, with the Abajo Mountains to the west and the San Juan range to the east, Monticello is a small town with big vistas.

San Juan County Libraries’ Monticello branch is right downtown, near the elementary school, in a big park with benches and shade trees.   

Outside, a brick patio with half barrel planters is surrounded by a red rock wall.  Fittingly, the same material is used for the building – the surrounding area is known for its unusual red sandstone formations.  There’s a wheelchair access ramp, bike rack and a wrap around bench that extends beyond its center tree for extra seating.    

A shiny lobby with plants and chairs is a pleasant place to browse the permanent book sale (which includes videos).  The polished sandstone floor is just gorgeous and there are free magazines and a lost and found.

A lobby door leads to a large program room with a kitchen area and great views of the snow covered CO mountains to the east through floor to ceiling windows.  Little chairs, a storytime books display, blackboard, easel table and shark’s mouth beanbag toss reveal its most frequent users. 

Inside, the new book (including YA titles) display’s geometric shape is echoed by the slanted slatted wood ceiling.  Black metal trusses extend down to the band of high windows making for interesting triangular patterns whenever you look up.  A little skylight imitates the overhead lights, but since it’s such a sunny area, the roof drops down low to dampen the brilliant rays and keep the library cool in summer.  

Near the Playaways, a pleasant reading area with tapestry upholstered chairs has a table with magazines and newspapers selections to choose from.  There’s a tax form table and a bulletin board and brochures rack provide helpful local information.  

Materials are housed in gleaming solid wood book shelves and there’s a standing globe by the encyclopedias and LDS collection. 

The facility has wifi, ten patron PCs, a magnification computer, and two in Children’s.  Via Pioneer – Utah’s online library – customers can download Kindle compatible ebooks.  Many locals got ereaders for Christmas so there was an upcoming training for staff on how to help patrons upload books from home.  Residents can also get audiobooks for their iPods, access numerous databases and read archived newspapers going back to the 1800’s through Pioneer.  What a great service for a state library to provide – especially for smaller libraries that just don’t have the funds for an electronic collection! 

Though the furnishings are modern, there is a taste of the past.  Select visual materials covers from this old catalog so staff can fetch them for you.  

I got a chance to chat with the Librarian, Pat Smith, who was very nice.  She’s working on the branch’s Facebook page so the town will have online information about library programs and events.  She also mentioned she’s starting a weekly art history video series – the first one will be on Ancient Egypt.

The library has a big young adult materials area and they even lend games and puzzles (here are some other unusual things libraries lend).  It must be a nightmare checking pieces when they’re returned 😉


The effect of the muted lighting combined with the red sandstone walls is most evident in the Children’s Room which is imbued with a pinkish glow.  Kid sized red, white and blue furniture is encircled by low easy book shelves which in turn are surrounded by materials for older children.  There’s a tall case of audio visual items near the book/CD combination bags.   

Quite a library for a town of just 2400 people!

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