GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Completion of the new Glenwood Springs Branch Library and Colorado Mountain College facility expansion will be marked by a 10 a.m. grand opening ceremony Saturday for the new “Cooper Commons” building downtown.
The library opening also culminates a multi-year effort involving some $24.7 million in capital improvements for the Garfield County Public Library District. That effort has resulted in four new library buildings in Rifle, Silt, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, and major renovations at the Parachute and New Castle branches.
“We are very excited to bring the construction to a close,” said Amelia Shelley, executive director for the library district. “We again just want to say thanks to the taxpayers and all the people who supported the ballot measure.
“We have fulfilled the promise we made to the voters, we’re proud of what was accomplished, and we hope people will take advantage of these wonderful new facilities,” Shelley said.
Garfield County voters in 2006 approved two ballot questions supporting the public library system, one establishing a separate, autonomous library district supported by a 0.25 percent countywide sales tax, and another approving a 20-year, 1 mill property levy used to finance the new facilities.
The new $6 million, 16,000-square-foot Glenwood Springs Branch Library is part of the larger, two-story “Cooper Commons” building, which was built in partnership with CMC at a total cost of about $11 million.
It is the last of the new libraries in the county to open, following on the heels of the July opening of the $5.4 million Carbondale Branch Library.
The new Glenwood facility replaces the former, 4,500-square-foot library at the corner of Ninth and Blake. That building will revert to the city of Glenwood Springs, which has not yet determined a use for the site.
Several special speakers are slated to offer remarks at the Saturday grand opening event, including Shelley, Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, Glenwood Springs Mayor Leo McKinney, principal architect Dennis Humphries, CMC Interim President Charles Dassance, district library board member Marilee Rippy, and Glenwood Library Branch Manager Pat Conway.
There will also be music, food and giveaways during the midday celebration.
Shelley pointed to the reading area in the new library as one of the most unique features, with its fireplace, open layout and large glass window with a view across the northeast side of downtown and into Glenwood Canyon.
“I think people are really going to like that space, it’s just beautiful,” she said.
Still to be determined by both the library and CMC will be future uses for the shared second-floor space, Shelley said.
“They [CMC] won’t be opening their part of the building just yet, so we’re kind of waiting for them before deciding what we will do with our space,” she said.
The library will take 4,000 square feet of the upstairs space, while CMC will have 10,000 square feet of new space, connected by a walkway across the alley to the main CMC Central Services building at the corner of Eighth and Grand.
The library district and CMC are finalizing a condominium agreement to present to the city, which will define the ownership of the various parts of the building.
CMC also included an underground parking garage beneath the building, which provides dedicated daytime parking for college employees. The parking garage is open for public parking after business hours and on weekends.
Library patrons can use the available street parking in the area, which is limited to two hours, or, for long-term parking, the new city parking garage at the corner of Ninth and Cooper. Handicapped accessible parking is located across Cooper Avenue from the new library.
The new Glenwood library will employ 11 people, up from the staff of nine that ran the old library, Shelley said. The library is in the process of hiring two pages to round out the staff, she said.
The “Cooper Commons” name for the building was arrived at after much deliberation, Shelley added. Originally, there were about 30 different possible names on the table, she said.
“We wanted something to define the place, and what the building is designed for,” she said.
Cooper is, of course, the location or place, Shelley said, “while commons means meeting place, or common area for people to gather.”
The sign on the corner of the building, with the double-Os of “Cooper” made into an “8” for Eighth Street, was designed with input CMC graphics specialist Doug Stewart, she said.
The old Glenwood Springs Branch Library is closed this week while the move is made into the new facility.