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Library’s bonus room makes a transformation

Emily Hisel
Garfield County Libraries
Jerry Morris puts the finishing touches on the Classroom in preparation for the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday.
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The Rifle Branch Library opened its doors in 2010, and it was the second of Garfield County Library’s six new (or remodeled) facilities to be completed. The facility featured a library on the first floor as well as Library District administration offices and two meeting rooms on the second floor.

When the facility was built, the Library’s board of trustees decided to also build a 3,000-square-foot space on the second floor that would remain unfinished. This “bonus room” cost just $60,000 at the time, and along with the other second floor area, was designed with a strong floor structure to support and accommodate future expansion of the library.

The added size of the bonus room also equated to a larger roof area. This roof is home to 54 Kwh of solar panels, which generate electricity for the building. The solar array would have been half that size without the bonus room’s rooftop area.

For the first few years, this bonus room was used as a storage space for the Library District. After many discussions of possible uses, the Libraries decided to pursue completing the space and creating a 1,500-square-foot room for the general public to use. The idea was to provide a flexible space better suited to a wide range of activities. And, in the spring of last year, the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District awarded the Garfield County Libraries an $87,000 grant to do just that. The Library District was able to finish the space under budget because Jerry Morris, the Library District’s facilities manager, took on the role of the general contractor.

The bonus room has been transformed over the past few months into what is now called the Classroom, which has a capacity of 99 people. The Classroom features amenities like many of the other Garfield County Libraries’ meeting rooms: wifi access, audio/visual capabilities, tables and chairs, and after-hours availability. What’s different about the Classroom is the industrial finishes like the sealed concrete floor, sink, countertop prep area, and ample overhead and wall power sources. These features allow for messier activities including makerspace classes that can involve glue, solder, grease and other substances that need a sink to cleanup or would damage a carpeted floor.

In 2014, the Rifle Branch Library averaged more than 4,250 visits per week, and the two meeting rooms were used by 12,560 people. The Classroom will allow the library to accommodate more meetings by nonprofits (which can use the spaces for free), as well as for-profit and private events for which the library collects an hourly fee to help offset cleaning and operational costs. Additionally, the Classroom can be used for library sponsored events like makerspace classes, technology trainings, informational programs and Storytime activities.

A ribbon cutting for the Classroom will be held on the second floor of the Rifle Branch Library at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17. The room will be available for exploration, and applications for reservations can found at the Rifle Branch Library’s first floor front desk.

Emily Hisel is public relations officer for the Garfield County Public Library District.


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