Library is our community center
Yes, Basalt needs a new library. For the past several years many citizens throughout the Basalt Regional Library District have been actively involved in trying to determine the best solution for our community.
I have been a part of that group by participating in the original “site selection committee,” public forums, Town Council meetings and many Library Board meetings. The Library Board is now asking us to support the proposed plan for two libraries.
Because our district covers hundreds of square miles, the board believes they can best serve their district by spreading out their services and occupying two buildings. The Library Board also believes a library in El Jebel is the only way they will get enough votes to pass this proposal.
I believe we need to find ways to come together because within the Basalt Regional Library District, there are many individual and unique communities. Our daily patterns of working in one town and living in another are reason enough for having a library that acts as our community center.
The library proposal would have the main collection at the new El Jebel Library and “compact representative collections of children’s books, Spanish-language materials, popular fiction, non-fiction and young adult materials” at the Basalt Library.
Will users take the chance that the Basalt Library has what they need or will they just head over to the “Main Library” to ensure they find the materials they want? I want our library to be the center of our community both physically and emotionally. I want our library to represent who we are as a community.
With children living in Blue Lake or Old Snowmass and going to Aspen Elementary or Aspen Community School in Woody Creek, we need to find ways to be together as a community. The proposal for two libraries will only separate us more.
Our children need to be with adults in a learning environment and see adults modeling the power a book can bring to their lives. Our children do not need to be isolated from where adults gather to communicate, to share ideas, to teach one another.
Children who go to the Basalt schools are indeed lucky to walk to their library and share in the richness of this learning environment. Because this population group does not drive for the most part, having convenient access is vital to their continued use of the library. That experience should be enhanced in every possible way, not diluted by spreading the services to two locations.
Is having two libraries the best solution? Over the past four years, so many citizens have tried to give positive support for a new library. It is difficult to say “No” to the idea of a bigger collection, more computers and more staff to answer our questions. A “NO” vote now will give us the opportunity to create a library with one building that is more economically sound and in a location that truly acts as the center for our whole community. We need to take the time to get it right.
My family and I encourage you to take time now to think about how this vote will shape our community. On Tuesday, Nov. 4, vote “NO” on library questions 4B and 4C so that we can say, “YES” to our community and to the future of our children.
Jim, Carson and Griffin Gilchrist
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