Books bursting at the bindings
EAGLE – Story hours at the Eagle Public Library are packed with kids and parents. Historical archives are squeezed into a small alcove on the second floor. Used book sales are routine, as the staff works to create more shelf space for new books.A lot has changed outside the library over the past decade. Eagle’s population has jumped and newer residents don’t remember when the library was in a converted home which stood where the parking lot is now. As the library approaches its 10th birthday, it needs more room.The Eagle Valley Library District is planning an 8,000-square-foot addition immediately south of its 16,000-square-foot building which could house historical archives and an expanded children’s space. The basic idea is to build a breezeway connecting the existing library with a new wing. A collection of county history is a priority, said Charlyn Canada, the library’s director. “We want to encourage people to participate in preserving Eagle County history,” said Canada. “We want to provide a service where people would be willing to entrust us with their original photographs and documents.”Through its work with the Eagle County Historical Society, the library has the beginnings of a comprehensive archive. Plans for the new history section include a climate-controlled room and an acid-free filing system. Additional space for children’s programs is another priority. In addition to toddler and preschool story times, the library now offers Spanish-language story time. Parents also bring infants to the library for puppet shows meant to help with literacy. The expansion plan also calls for a “Young Adult Center” where pre-teens and teens can gather. “We have lots of kids elbow-to-elbow around a computer. We want to build on that and give them gentle supervision,” Canada said.
She envisions new computer alcoves where kids can gather in groups and check out the Internet. “We have lots of filters in place for our Internet connections,” Canada stressed, “so by doing this, we would be saying our library is a place where it’s OK for kids to be together having fun.”There also may be a coffee shop, Canada said.Refuge from the InternetAs they plan the Eagle Library expansion, Canada said the librarians are keenly aware of a stark reality: Americans don’t read as much as they used to. Canada said libraries must therefore expand their vision and focus on customer service. The library is considering letting people check books out themselves. Because of privacy issues, self-checkout technology is gaining momentum in libraries across the nation. This spring, library officials plan trips to Farmington, N.M. and Castle Rock to see some state-of-the-art libraries in operation. Additional meeting room space is another priority for the expansion. Community groups routinely book the existing room. And finally, in an era where people can conduct their errands on line and e-mail is a preferred method of communication, Canada said people are searching for ways to make human contact.
“I think there is going to be a bigger and bigger demand for people to interact with one another,” she said. “We want to be the place where that can happen.”That desire will play out in the floor plan for the new library. The facility will include traditional quiet spaces but it will also provide “shhhhh-free” zones where people can gather and talk. “I truly see this expansion as a way for the library to help build community,” Canada said.Down to designsThe first step in the expansion project happened last year when the library district bought the land to the south for $500,000.”The house wasn’t for sale, but we wanted to sew it up for our future,” Canada said. “We saw the growth at Eagle Ranch and neighboring communities and wanted to have some room for the youth.”While the brown-brick home formerly owned by George and Lena Yost now sits vacant, the site won’t be quiet for long. The library has retained Pam Hopkins, architect for the original Eagle Library project, to design the addition. The library also has begun discussing the development their plans with the Eagle. If all goes well, construction for the roughly $3 million addition will begin in 2007.
“We are not going back to the taxpayers to ask for more money to pay for this,” Canada stressed.=============Library visits in the last 10 yearsYearVisits1996103,2271997107,4711998120,6821999(no figures)