Just a larger 20th-century library
September 25, 2012
While I am all in favor of the concept of Pitkin County creating a 21st-century library, what is being proposed is not the solution functionally – it is not much more than a larger 20th-century library.
The modern 21st-century library is not just a place to store knowledge; it is a lifelong learning center for the community. In order to serve many diverse groups with many different needs, each functional area devoted to a particular group or need must be able to operate independently – with its own external entry and access to restrooms. This design approach would allow for certain special-need areas to operate after normal library hours without the excessive cost burden of keeping the whole library open with greatly extended hours. For example, a functional space such as the computer area could then operate independently after the main library closes, as only one employee would be needed to manage this otherwise self-supported area.
Unfortunately, there has been little discussion of the functionality of the proposed expanded library, and I do not believe there has been adequate public input and discussion when the design program for the architect was developed.
The many public meetings on the library expansion have mostly dealt with land-use issues, zoning, views, impact on Galena Plaza, mass and façade. And when I brought up the above points at a City Council meeting on the library expansion, library staff and design-team members who were there heard my concerns – but apparently did nothing to address them.
I strongly believe these two things:
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• We must have a modern 21st-century library that is a flexible lifelong community learning center.
• The proposed plan does not meet these present and future needs.
The Aspen City Council has approved the expansion plan, which goes to Pitkin County voters for their final say on Nov. 6. I am asking that everyone vote “no” so that library officials can hear the public’s concerns and the design program can be revised to formulate a more appropriate solution. Then a carefully thought-out design for a new 21st-century library can be brought back to voters for approval.