Aspen needs and wants library expansion
July 3, 2012
As a frequent user of the Pitkin County Library, I am writing this letter to support and advocate for the addition to the library. It is my understanding that half of the money needed for the library construction is available and that the balance needed would be raised by a small increase in the mill levy. It is my opinion that the value of the new construction is well worth the small increase in our property taxes.
I first came to Aspen in the summer of 1964 with my family. After the early 1970s, I did not return to Aspen for more than 30 years. What brought me back to Aspen as an adult with my own family? Why didn’t I buy a home in Steamboat, Telluride or Jackson Hole instead? Believe me – I looked around a lot. It was a fabulous town with the music festival and the Aspen Institute. Aspen differentiated itself through its character and culture.
I took a chance and bought a little home. Now my family and houseguests love Aspen – again. In particular, it has become a friendly town with easy access to its cultural amenities. The library is a case in point.
When I expressed an interest in becoming a member of the library after attending a book discussion one evening, librarian Kathy Chandler immediately took me upstairs and got me a library card, and I took two books out that evening. I go to the library every time I am in town. If I don’t finish a book by the end of my stay, the library has no trouble about my returning the book by mail. I love the library. It adds to the cultural value of Aspen. It is important to both the permanent and non-permanent residents of Aspen.
I urge the town to consider allowing this addition to be constructed in conjunction with the garage repair, because it is both physically and financially logical. A community center that has its own access, not reliant on library hours, would be more heavily used. A children’s library that does not have adults using it as a hallway would be safer and quieter for children. Bookshelves that are lower and further apart are safer and more easily accessible. Finally, the proposed glass addition would bring Aspen’s gorgeous natural landscape in creating an aesthetically pleasing addition to the library. The time to do it is now, after so much planning has been invested in it.
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Last summer, I went to Cody, Wyo.’s recreation center and new library and thought, “I could move here for just these two civic amenities.” Its rec center and library said something about how the community saw itself. They reflected the community’s self-respect for mind and body.
Twenty years have passed since the initial building of the Pitkin County Library and, frankly, it’s a bit dated, certainly, compared with Cody’s. Our library in Aspen needs to be expanded and updated. This is something Aspen needs, not just something the town wants.