Monday, March 3, 2014

PPLD names, previews ambitious Library 21c

Posted By on Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 12:33 PM

The Pikes Peak Library District is taking public libraries into the 21st century with the new Library 21c, scheduled to open in mid-June.

Until today, this project was known as the 21st Century Library. The PPLD has been repairing and readying the building since it was purchased in 2011. Last week, PPLD administrators invited Indy staff to tour the unfinished facility, at 1175 Chapel Hills Drive.
click to enlarge This space at the new library will contain the stacks from the Briargate branch, with shelves organized to be more open and welcoming. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • This space at the new library will contain the stacks from the Briargate branch, with shelves organized to be more open and welcoming.

This facility is enormous. According to the PPLD website, at 112,883 square feet, it is nearly half the size of all existing library space in the district. It is a beautiful space, too. The facility has plenty of open space and natural light, complete with a gorgeous view of Pikes Peak through two-story windows in the atrium. But a library is its contents, and that is where Library 21c is unique. All administrative facilities will be moved here from the East and Penrose libraries. The bottom floor contains everything a library is expected to contain — shelves full of books moved from the soon-to-be-closed Briargate branch, the largest children's section in the district, study and hang-out spaces for teenagers, a Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District retail area and a fully automated return and sorting system. OK, that last one is new.

Also downstairs is a center for basic tech education to help residents set up and understand their tablets and smart phones. There is also a cafe, formerly the corporate cafeteria, which will also be used to host cooking classes.

Upstairs is where Library 21c really stands apart. The Creative Computer Commons, an area designed as a collaborative workspace, will take up most of the floor. Here, the library will host classes on a variety of subjects, taught by PPLD staff and guests alike. It will also function as a business center, including a copy and print center, several conference rooms, spaces for co-working, and courses on starting and expanding a business. These services and facilities can be reserved and used by anyone; PPLD Executive Director Paula Miller said the area, and the library at large, are "here for the whole community."

Library 21c will have 
click to enlarge Community Engagement and Outreach Officer Dee Vasques Sabol, Executive Director Paula Miller and PPLD Press Contact Travis Duncan in front of Library 21c. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Community Engagement and Outreach Officer Dee Vasques Sabol, Executive Director Paula Miller and PPLD Press Contact Travis Duncan in front of Library 21c.
resources for other interests and disciplines as well. There will be an audio/video editing suite, with training sessions. The suite will have equipment and software for composing software, 3D animation, and basic A/V recording. Down the hall, there will be an all-ages game design lab. The library will also have two maker spaces: one for messier crafting, and one for dust-free work. It will also include a 3D printer and scanner for rapid prototyping.

Library 21c will also feature The Venue at 21c, a 400-seat theater for live performances and business events.

All of this makes Library 21c sound more like a community college than a library. But the digital age has had a huge effect on how libraries operate. "[There has been] no time of greater change [for libraries]," Miller said.

Consider Library 21c and its facilities and planned events a mass test for resources the PPLD wants to implement across the district. Everything therein is modeled on community needs and innovative practices across the country.

Library 21c is a glimpse of the future.
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