A 21st-century library | AspenTimes.com

A 21st-century library

Dear Editor:

In the summer of 2009, in an effort to learn how the community felt about the future of the Pitkin County Library, we began a process of gathering feedback from the public through a series of focus-group meetings. We heard about the need for multiple and flexible meeting spaces, the relationship of the interior building to its exterior space, the importance of partnerships with the schools and nonprofits for programming, and the importance of the library as a hub for our community. At the same time, the staff and board analyzed the future needs of the library, changes in the ways the library was being used, and problems with the existing building.

We began planning for a reconfiguration of the library that would serve the needs identified by the community, staff and board. To accomplish this, we would need to transform the library from a design that was a warehousing of books to a design that made our most popular collections more available, accessible and ADA compliant. For security reasons, we would need to move the children’s room so that it would no longer be a pathway into the library. And to meet the many requests we were receiving for after hours access, we would need to improve upon the existing community meeting room.

In the years since our initial focus group meetings, we have created a design that will bring our library into the 21st century. We are now going through the land-use review process with City Council and have received very positive feedback to our programming and planning, but we are also hearing concerns about a proposed canopy that would extend onto the Galena Plaza. We hear those concerns and are creating alternative designs to present to City Council on Monday.

At the heart of what we are seeking is a library building that will fix existing problems and function better, well into the future. This is a transformative time for our library and for libraries throughout the country, which requires a response to changing needs. Pitkin County has a library with so much to offer, but it needs to evolve. The new plan embraces what we’ve learned through our community outreach and will create a library for the 21st century.

Barbara Reid

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President, Pitkin County Library board

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