A new Glenwood Springs library, and a whole lot more
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A commonly used conjunction in proper English grammar aptly describes the new Glenwood Springs Branch Library, and the future of libraries in general, Marilee Rippy mused Saturday at the grand opening ceremony for the new 16,000-square-foot downtown library facility.
“This is a library of ‘and,’” said Rippy, Glenwood Springs’ representative on the Garfield County Library District board, in reference to all the design and programming amenities that are included in the new library at 815 Cooper Avenue.
The word “and” also applies to the dual function of the larger, two-story Cooper Commons building that the library will share with Colorado Mountain College.
The unique partnership between the library district, CMC, the city of Glenwood Springs and the Downtown Development Authority that kept the new library in the downtown core resulted in “a long list of ands,” Rippy said in addressing the more than 150 people gathered in the library’s community room and front foyer for the opening celebration Saturday morning.
It’s a state-of-the-art library that not only users, but the voters who provided taxpayer support to build a total of six new branch libraries in Garfield County, can be proud of, she said.
“All of this happened amidst people saying that libraries are dead,” Rippy also said. “But this is a world of ‘ands,’
“Indeed, the future [of libraries] is about ‘and,’” she said. “Whatever the next new thing that comes along is, we will have it first at the library.”
The grand opening of the new $6 million Glenwood Springs Library Saturday marks the completion of more than $24.7 million in new library facilities from Parachute to Carbondale over the past four years. The effort was funded by a 20-year, 1 mill property levy approved by county voters in 2006.
“I really like it, the whole design, the outdoor patio, the lounge areas … it’s just a lot more spacious,” said Victoria Madden, 12, of Glenwood Springs, as she perused the bookshelves in the young adult section, eventually settling on a copy of Stephen Hawking’s “Theory of Everything.”
“I take my little siblings to the library, and they like to run around a lot,” she said. “It’s a good idea to have a lot of room for kids.”
Another regular library user, Manny Johnson, grabbed a comfortable lounge chair by the window overlooking Cooper Avenue to use his personal computer.
“I like the living-room atmosphere, where you can kick back and study or read,” he said. “It’s also very technologically advanced, and has a real business feel to it.”
Arriving on the job as the new executive director of the Garfield Library District shortly after voters approved the capital investment in new facilities was Amelia Shelley.
“One of my first jobs was to go around and do an assessment of all the libraries, and determine where the greatest needs were,” Shelley said.
Glenwood Springs had more than 120,000 library visits per year, yet one of the smallest library buildings at just 4,500 square feet, she said of the former branch library building on the corner of Ninth and Blake.
“We have six new libraries now, and I would like to think of this as our crowning glory,” Shelley said at the grand opening event.
The library district had been looking at locations for a new Glenwood library outside of the downtown area, but by working with the city, the DDA and CMC, was able to work out a deal to keep the library downtown.
Combined with the city and the DDA’s investment in a new parking structure at Ninth and Cooper and other improvements in the vicinity near the new library building, “this is a big deal for the Glenwood Springs community,” added Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who also spoke at the event.
“This is a facility that will add vitality to the downtown area for the next two decades to come,” Jankovsky said, noting that all six new library facilities in the county were an attempt to meet each of the communities’ unique needs.
Dennis Humphries, the principal architect for the new library, said the partnership between the different entities that he worked with to design and complete the Cooper Commons building was challenging, but rewarding.
“It was a journey that was well worth it,” Humphries said. “This building is a testament to the fact that there is a future for libraries.”
Libraries are crucial in helping to further the mission of the area’s Raising a Reader program, said Rick Blauvelt, executive director of Raising a Reader in the Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County, who was on hand for the library opening.
“It’s just amazing to have six branch libraries in our little county,” he said. “Libraries are such a big part of early literacy, which is what our program is all about.”
Each year, in addition to providing bags of books for preschool children to share with parents and learn how to read at home, Raising a Reader introduces young students to their local libraries.
“For many of them, it’s their first trip to the library, and they all get a blue library bag,” Blauvelt said. “I’ve seen those kids keep their bags and bring them back to the library time and time again.”
The new Glenwood Springs Library includes 23,700 books, up from 20,200 at the previous location, plus 4,750 other print and digital media items and 26 public computers. That’s up from 10 computers at the old location.
Currently on display in the new library through mid-November is the work of local landscape artist Lanny Grant.
The 14,000-square-foot second floor of the Cooper Commons building remains unfinished. About 70 percent of that space belongs to CMC, while the remainder will be used by the library district for a yet-to-be-determined purpose.
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