The time is right for library upgrade | AspenTimes.com

The time is right for library upgrade

Dear Editor:

For years, the Pitkin County Library has been preparing and planning for its future. In the summer of 2009, we conducted a series of community focus-group meetings in order to gather feedback about the current library and to better understand the community’s needs now and for the future.

The focus-group meetings:

• Confirmed the need for a children’s library with new spaces for interactive learning and storytelling.

• Identified the need for multiple and flexible meeting spaces within the library.

• Called into question the relationship of our interior building with its exterior space.

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• Emphasized the importance of the library’s partnerships with the schools and nonprofits for community programming.

• Highlighted the importance of the library as a hub for our community.

At the same time as these focus-group meetings with members of the community, the library staff and board assessed the future needs of the library, analyzing the changes in the ways the library was being used and the limitations of the existing building.

Following these group meetings and analyses, we began planning for a reconfiguration of the library, which would serve the changing needs identified by the community, staff and board.

This reconfiguration includes:

• The transformation of the library from a warehouse for books to a design that makes our most popular collections more available, accessible and Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

• The relocation of the children’s room for security reasons so that it is no longer a pathway into the library.

• The addition of a community meeting room to meet the many requests for after-hours access.

In the years since our initial focus-group meetings, we have continued to reach out to the public with open houses and meetings throughout our community.

We have learned that:

• Our young-adult population needs a space dedicated to teens that will allow for collaboration and study.

• Our music collection, which is the second-most extensive music collection in the state of Colorado, needs to be more accessible.

• If the library’s relationship to the plaza is reconfigured and more of a connection is made, there is tremendous potential for this area to serve as an important civic space.

• It is important to prioritize green, energy-efficient design standards for our project.

New and redesigned libraries are coming online throughout our valley and beyond to address the needs of the 21st century. Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Silt, Newcastle and Rifle have new and reconfigured libraries either in the planning stages or recently built.

Libraries are cornerstones of community activities. We know that the Pitkin County Library plays an important role in the civic life of our community – for locals, part-time residents and visitors of all ages and interests. We need to join the libraries that are preparing themselves for the 21st century.

We believe that this is the right project at the right time.

Barbara Reid

President, Pitkin County Library board of trustees

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