New Central Library set to open June 20; temporary library location to close May 31 |

New Central Library set to open June 20; temporary library location to close May 31

Sharon Sullivan
Sharon Sullivan | Free Press
Staff Photo |

An outdoor plaza with gardens and benches, an upstairs mezzanine that overlooks Colorado National Monument, and six quiet study rooms are among the new amenities patrons will find when the new Central Library opens June 20.

Comfortable arm chairs where people can sit and read will be placed throughout the library, including the fiction area where southwest-facing windows provide abundant natural lighting.

There’s also a shaded patio area accessible from the fiction room. The outdoor area is enclosed with artsy steel walls that resemble shelves of books.

Surveys conducted by the library district revealed that patrons wanted more places to read and study, as well as more meeting space, library director Eve Tallman said.

A new meeting room can hold 236 people — a big plus, as events held in the old library’s community room were often crowded. A new stereo system and projector will allow for movie showings in the new space.

The new children’s area has less overall square footage, but more usable space than before. It, too, will include an enclosed children’s outdoor patio.

Additionally, a Junior Service League grant is sprucing up the children’s puppet theater, Tallman said.

The library’s teen area has grown by 60 percent, too.

“They can hang out, close the doors, and rock out if they want,” Tallman said.

Patrons will be able to reserve with a library card, the “creation studio” — built with grant funding — where people can make audio and video recordings, such as YouTube videos.

“We’ll teach classes on how to use it,” Tallman said.

Other features include a history room in memory of longtime library supporter Rosemary Rashleigh. The formal study room will house rare books that can be accessed while at the library.

The technology services department helps people learn how to use their computers and devices such as smartphones — something the library helps patrons with every day, Tallman said.

The library will also be a place for visitors to view local artwork.

“We have great local art, including from John Lintott, Dave Davis and Vera Mulder,” Tallman said.

‘No tax increase, no public debt’

Tallman became library director six years ago, a few years after Mesa County residents narrowly defeated twice a ballot initiative that would have generated bond money for a new library. Voters did not want to incur public debt to pay for it.

So, Tallman instead set out to improve the district’s existing branches in Fruita, Orchard Mesa, Clifton and Palisade.

Last year, the district began construction on a revised, smaller Central Library than what was originally envisioned 10 years ago. The result is a new and improved library nonetheless.

It’s being built “through prudent fiscal management, saved money over the years out of existing revenues,” library spokesman Bob Kretschman said.

“This project was built without a tax increase and without public debt.”

The new library adds about 10,000 square feet, bringing it up to 45,000 square feet.

“Instead of a giant Central Library and small satellite facilities, we’ve gone to a system of strong branches and a Central Library that is right-sized for the Grand Junction area of which it serves,” Kretschman said.

The library project also improves operational efficiency, Kretschman said, by folding three departments — the library, administration and collections management — all formerly housed in three separate buildings, into one.


During the construction phase, the Central Library has temporarily been located at 655 N. First St., near Gunnison Ave. The temporary location will close May 31, while staff moves materials into the new library in time for its June opening.

“All branches will remain open for the duration,” Tallman said.

Patrons will find east and west entrances, with parking space available on both sides, as well as along Sixth Street. People will no longer access the library from Gunnison Avenue, thus the library’s address will change to 433 N. Sixth St.

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