At the beginning of Ray Oldenburg’s 1989 publication, The Great Good Place, he quotes Max Lerner talking about the “quest for community” in his 1957 writing, America as a Civilization. This “quest for community” is at the heart of a gracefully working society. In his book, Oldenburg discusses how we fulfill it, through what is called “the third place,” that is, places we spend our time other than work or home. According to him, these places are where we level in class, form communication skills through informal conversation, meet friends, relax our “professional” selves, and overall … have fun!
In laymen’s terms, Oldenburg is telling us to go to the bar, the coffee shop, the bookstore, the hair salon, and in the case of Colorado Springs… the library?!
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, El Pomar Foundation approved the Pikes Peak Library District for a $750,000 challenge grant to go to the Penrose location. PPLD plans to use this money to become one of these “third places” by "providing exactly what you need, in the format you desire, at the very moment it will benefit you most," and, as long as they are able to meet the challenge of raising $3.15 million by Jan. 1, 2016, it sure looks like they’ll be able to.
Already, the library has been working toward becoming a 21st century library (http://ppld.org/21stCenturyLibrary.) Renovations are being made to existing buildings; a completely new location is being opened in 2014 at 1175 Chapel Hills Drive; improvements to teen areas are in the works; and a series of rearrangements with offices, special collections and Adult Literacy departments will allow for a more efficient use of space. The East Library will open its entire second floor as a mammoth creative computer commons. Sounds like a media wonderland.
I spoke with PPLD spokesperson Travis Duncan, and Dolores Fowler, executive officer of the PPLD Foundation. Both seemed ecstatic about the new coming improvements. When asked about how they planned to meet the challenge of raising $3.15 million Duncan said, “It’s a challenge we are putting to the community for the 21st century library. We want the community to get involved, and to tell us what they want to see.”
Fowler mentioned “strengthening a real partnership between the library and the community, families and friends, more grant writing, offering opportunities to sponsor or donate items, name rooms, naming the coming creative computer commons, and much more. “