Downtown library would be an asset to the community |

Downtown library would be an asset to the community

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

It would be great news for Glenwood Springs if the city government buys land for a new library and parking structure on the 800 block of Cooper Avenue.

This location would keep the library in the heart of downtown Glenwood Springs, in keeping with the classic image of an American town with a large library as one of the focal points of its core.

Amelia Shelley, executive director of the Garfield County Public Library District, says the library can’t expand the existing library, at Ninth and Blake, upward or outward. While the city of Glenwood Springs owns the underlying land, the library district owns the building. The district could potentially trade the building to the city for property of equal value.

Judging by the previous projects of the library district, Glenwood Springs is in for a treat. The new libraries in Parachute and Rifle are beautiful structures featuring new book collections, community meeting rooms, lots of computers for public use, sophisticated electronic book checkout (you can renew via the Internet), and movie and audio CD checkouts.

These libraries are busy, vital parts of the community that have a lot to offer adults as well as children. Story time, book clubs, reading buddies, and special craft days are some examples of activities geared toward kids.

At a time when the state government is making cuts to education, it is heartening to see that some tax dollars are going to create more educational opportunities.

Another library location that has been bandied about is the confluence area, which will open up for redevelopment once the city’s wastewater treatment plant moves out. While there is potential in the confluence for more of a campus feel, the Eighth and Cooper site downtown, built with an integrated parking structure, would be vastly superior for meeting the needs of residents in a convenient, accessible location.

And having an inviting public library in close proximity to businesses will increase its visibility and viability, making it even better than the library’s current location on the edge of a residential section of town.

Adding to the synergy of the site, Colorado Mountain College is in negotiations to buy the U.S. Bank building at Eighth and Grand, and both the college and library district see the benefit of being neighbors.

Downtown Glenwood Springs will also benefit from redevelopment of the Cooper Avenue property, which is on the west side extending about half way down the block from Eighth Street.

This is prime real estate in a city trying to improve its vibrancy, land that is being wasted in its current use as a simple parking lot. Building a new library there will contribute to the goal, while still providing much-needed parking on the site.

Opponents to the project may complain about government expenditures in a tough economy. Yet these funds are from a voter-approved tax dedicated specifically to building new libraries in all six towns in the county.

Most areas would go well out of their way for this type of redevelopment, which will call for collaboration between the city of Glenwood Springs, the Library District and, most likely, Colorado Mountain College. This is a great opportunity to make sure a treasured institution – our public library – stays in downtown Glenwood Springs.

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