When the $65 million building opened in 2003, librarians wore "anti-shh" buttons to promote the idea that the facility was a place for dialogue, creativity, even fun.
Now, librarians are wearing pins with the words "respect" and "civil" and "consider."
Seems some of us have forgotten the building is, well, a library, where others want to read, study, ponder.
Some of us don't whisper; some even yell. We fling our feet onto the furniture. We snooze. We act too rowdy.
And why not? The library has a coffee shop and other stores. There's a TV in the teen room. Meeting rooms are spread throughout. The Grandmothers Attic in the children's section begs for playtime. The audio-visual department plays music. And the building echoes in spots.
But the facility's heavy use - about 3 million visitors this year - is requiring librarians to reinforce courteous behavior.
While librarians are loath to start shushing patrons, the library recently instituted a "Civility Campaign" meant to apply to all public buildings. Along with the buttons, there are bookmarks and fliers at the front desk with a list of library guidelines. The general rule: If the behavior disrupts other patrons, librarians will ask the offender to stop.
"It is an engaged and lively public place," Library Director Nancy Tessman says. "We want to be sensitive to all the users. It's just a matter of reminding people of where they are."
The bustle actually suggests the library is doing something right, she notes. "The quiet that was so often a part of the past also had something to do with people not coming to libraries as much."
Tessman downplays the civility breaches. She says it's been several months since she has fielded a complaint about noise. And the campaign is a soft sell. No library user approached Tuesday knew there was such a push. Most understand the need for the rules but they hope librarians don't go too far.
"We've had some instances where, yeah, people have gotten too loud, laughing, yelling, [saying] f-that," says a man hanging out in the teen section who calls himself Twinkie. He acknowledges being part of that unruly crowd, but says he toned it down. Others didn't and he says they were banned for a day. "We were way too loud and this is a family-oriented establishment."
Scanning the rules, friend Cara Blood says librarians already enforce most of them. But she wishes they would crack down on one: personal hygiene.
"This library was awesome and now it's all gross," she says, noting that she frequently smells body odor.
That is a result of the homeless individuals who use the library. Tessman says that number is growing, but notes that they have as much right to the facility as others.
The noise from the teen section bothers 17-year-old Sarah Chaffin, but not enough to deter her from hanging out at the library practically every day after school.
"I don't want to come to a library that's loud, obnoxious and dirty. It takes away from the fact it's a library," she says, with her feet on the furniture as her cell phone beeps.
Jennifer Pia welcomes any effort to improve civility.
"It seemed like the library pretty much does virtually nothing unless they're drunk," she says. "It's a shame. It is such a beautiful building. What do you do? It is a public building. They can be there if they want to be there."
Cole Benson, sitting outside a meeting room where firefighters inside are talking so loudly they can be heard a dozen feet away, says he has seen virtually all the rules broken: Patrons snoring, kids climbing on furniture, others leaving trash behind.
"Seems weird that somebody falling asleep in the corner would be against the rules," he says. "But it happens. Fortunately, I am able to tune a lot of it out. If I were doing serious research, I'd probably go up to the [University of Utah's] library, where it is dead silent. I kind of like how it is more open here."
In fact, the occasional clamor is what gives the library its charm, says Kayla Hansen.
"There is a real sense of freedom," she says. "I would be very sad if they clamped down too much."
There are quiet spots to be found.
"The higher up you go, usually the quieter it gets," says Corinne Godfrey, who visits the library once a week while her husband does research on the microfilm machines. "The kids' areas are pretty noisy and the lobby. I think it's nice that, unlike other libraries, you can come here and have a small meeting or a conversation."
Just keep it down, would ya?
l Wade or allow animals in the reflecting pools.
l Use skates, skateboards or scooters on the property.
l Smoke or chew tobacco within 20 feet of the entrance.
l Conduct unauthorized sales or surveys.
l Consume, sell, possess or be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
l Solicit or panhandle.
l Access pornographic or obscene materials on the computers.
l Clean up after yourself.
l Keep down disruptive noise and boisterous behavior.
l Refrain from obscene language.
l Eat food in cafe area and keep covered drinks away from computers.
l Be considerate with cell-phone use.
l Don't sleep in the library.
l Keep feet off the furniture.
l Wear shirt and shoes.
l Be aware of personal hygiene.
l Bring only service animals necessary for disabilities.