Pitkin County Library books a room | AspenTimes.com
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Pitkin County Library books a room

John Colson

The Pitkin County Library wants to expand into the open area known as the Rio Grande Plaza in order to meet future demand.The expansion – a two-story addition to the east of the existing building – would serve a growing population, improve customer service, install a loading dock for book deliveries and provide more room for bookshelves, a library official said.But, head librarian Kathy Chandler said, “it’s pretty far off in the future” – like eight or 10 years.In the near term, though, Chandler has been meeting with city officials, architects and her own board to hammer out the details of a plan to construct pillars, which would support the weight of the addition, at the western side the Rio Grande Parking Garage.The city is making plans to repair the roof of the garage – which also serves as the ground level of the plaza – within a couple of years, and officials say the best time to build the pillars is while the roof work is being done.Chandler said the pillars would be necessary to hold the weight of the building, books, paper and other material – about 250 pounds per square foot. A regular office building of the same height would weigh roughly 50 to 60 pounds per square foot, Chandler said.She said a structural engineering firm, Anderson Hastings, already has drawn up the specifications for the pillars and submitted cost estimates for the library’s share of the total cost of the project.Chandler said the pillars should cost somewhere between $715,000 and $900,000, money the library says it can get without having to borrow. She said the library has a $4 million endowment thanks to gifts by two donors – Alice Price of El Paso, Texas, and Doris Denker of Aspen.”Nobody was really firm on these numbers, but it gives us something to work with,” Chandler said this week. She said she had met recently with city planner Chris Bendon and special projects manager Ben Gagnon to talk about the project.She said the library board believes the expansion is necessary because the county’s population is expected to grow from 14,800 or so now to more than 25,000 by the year 2025. Using those numbers in calculations based on national library standards, she said, the Pitkin County facility will need to expand.Plus, she said, the expansion would feature a public meeting room that groups could use after the library’s closing time.Chandler also noted that the library has no loading dock, which has created considerable difficulties.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com


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