The time is right for overhauling the library | AspenTimes.com

The time is right for overhauling the library

Dear Editor:

There are times when additional taxes are of benefit to the entire community. It has been well documented, not only by the consultants but by the numerous local focus groups assembled by the library staff over the past two years, that the interior layout of the spaces of the existing library building is inappropriate and inadequate for current uses.

There has been a wonderful change in the way libraries are used over the past 20 years, when the current library was designed and built. Not only are patrons using the technological advances achieved during this period, but libraries have become much more than repositories for books.

Our library currently houses a great diversity of books and movies on tape and CD, as well as providing the opportunity for patrons to download books onto their own devices. Our library also has more than 20 computers for use by locals and visitors. Thus the library is already taking great advantage of the digital world, and the planned expansion will improve on that immeasurably.

Use of the library also has changed from that of checking out material or holing up at a table or in a carrel for individual reading or study to a collaboration by students for an out of school project, group readings for both children and adults, a meeting spot for those who don’t have an alternative, requests for a larger gathering space to be used prior to and after library hours, etc.

Although the existing library building does have handicap and wheelchair access to all levels, the current configuration of the library stacks with narrow aisles and seven-foot-high shelves makes it impossible for an individual in a wheel chair to browse any of the collections, and it’s even difficult for the able-bodied to peruse the books at the upper or lower levels of the shelves.

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The new plan calls for relocating and expanding the children’s room, expansion of the teenage areas, relocating the most-used areas such as the fiction and music collections, consolidating the staff offices and work spaces, modifying the stacks to allow easier viewing of the collections, providing access conforming to current Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, building a meeting-community room that can be accessed before, during and after library hours and coordinating the expansion with the city’s newly designed Galena Plaza for greater use and enjoyment by all. There will be many improvements to the existing infrastructure to enhance the operational costs.

The timing of construction has been coordinated with the city’s plans to remove the existing, leaking roof of the parking structure, thereby creating additional savings. We should take advantage of this opportunity. In short, the library needs a re-do, and the timing is right.

Vote “yes” on 5A and 5B.

John Keleher

Aspen

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