Boulder Public Library renovation

The main library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave., will remain open during most of 2014 as contractors carry out a substantial renovation of the southern side of the building. However, not all items and collections will be available at all times, and customers are encouraged to use the other library branches.

George Reynolds Branch: 3995 Table Mesa Drive, 303-441-3120, closed Mondays

Meadows Branch: 4800 Baseline Road, 303-441-4390, closed Thursdays

NoBo Corner Library: 4600 Broadway, opening late March

Info: For more information on the renovation, go to tinyurl.com/boulderlibraryremodel

A more inviting and playful children's library. An expanded teen area. More meeting rooms and study areas. A new cafe. (Finally!)

These are some of the improvements patrons should see at the end of a yearlong renovation of the main Boulder public library that starts next month.

The exterior of the distinctive stone and glass building that spans Boulder Creek at 1001 Arapahoe Ave. won't change, but the interior of the southern portion of the building will be substantially redone to improve the layout of the collection and provide more seating, study areas and meeting rooms. The library's computer stations will also be revamped, starting with new wiring, and moved to the second floor.


Advertisement

The new design was the result of a months-long design process with several public meetings, including some just for parents of young children and for teenagers. Library officials also toured other recently built or renovated libraries to see what other communities were doing.

The goal was to create a space that would continue to be relevant for a new generation of users.

"It's shifting from a place to get books to a community space," said Jennifer Miles, deputy library director.

The library will go from three meeting rooms to six, with one of those rooms designed with tiered seating for presentations and oriented so that it can open to the new children's library or the main fiction collection or be closed off from both. It will also be full of reading chairs, study carrels and work tables positioned to take advantage of the building's natural light and long expanses of windows.

One of the most noticeable changes will be moving the children's library from its current location near the Arapahoe entrance to an enclosed space closer to Boulder Creek. The room will be "child-sized" and playful, with a fish tank, interactive play areas, shorter shelves and areas for older and younger children, said Glenn Magee, design construction manager for the city's Facilities and Asset Management Department. One of the entrances will be through a multicolored tunnel underneath a repositioned ramp to the upper level.

Enclosing the space will mean children can be children — with their sometimes-noisy enjoyment of storytime activities — without disturbing other patrons and also that parents will feel more secure that their kids won't wander off, either between 7-foot-high shelves or out the entrance, Miles said.

The open area to the right of the entrance will become the main fiction section, with banks of reading chairs by the tall windows. The shelving will be tiered to create more open sight lines.

The entrance itself will also be transformed. Instead of seeing the backs of computer users in rows along the corridor, patrons will see information screens about activities in Boulder and the library and displays related to current library events.

"You walk in, and all of a sudden you're excited to be here," Magee said.

The help desk will be moved to the right to keep the corridor open, and the computers will be moved to the second floor. The building's wiring is 20 years old, and some of it is obsolete and replacement parts can't be found. The floor on the second story will be raised 4 inches to run new wiring that can accommodate modern technology without drilling into the floor.

The teen center, now located in a room Miles generously describes as "cozy" off the walkway to the bridge over Boulder Creek, will be moved to the northeast corner of the second floor, with windows looking out over the creek. It will be three times as large and have computers and study areas, with furniture that can be moved around depending on whether students are working together or studying alone.

The teen center will also have a technology lab with sound-mixing and video-editing equipment and a green screen, with the money for those amenities to be raised by the library foundation.

"We're looking to accommodate the younger generation to keep them using the library," Magee said.

The library is still looking for a cafe vendor — officials have put out a request for proposals — but the renovation includes plans for water and sewer hookups for a more full-service operation.

Magee said the renovation will provide the infrastructure for the cafe to succeed.

The library's Espress-Oh! cafe closed in September 2009.

The possibility of a new cafe is particularly exciting to Suzanne Najarian, a book editor who uses the library several times a week.

"I read a lot, and I can't afford to buy books," she said.

She already loves the building, she said.

"It's a great library, but it would be nice to have a really nice cafe here," she said.

Aay Bravin, of Boulder, brings her children, Anna, 8, and Micah, 4, to the library three or four times a month. Bravin said the plans for the new children's area sound "fantastic," and her children gasped in excitement when they were told about the tunnel.

The library construction will be carried out in phases, starting with the non-fiction section and teen space on the second floor and ending at the entrance. The library will remain open for most of the construction period, but not all of the collection will be available at all times.

The construction phase of the $3.7 million renovation starts in late February, with a kick-off event scheduled for Feb. 20. The bulk of the money — $2.45 million — comes from a voter-approved capital improvement bond. The capital development fund and facilities capital improvement program are each contributing another $288,000, and the library is contributing $276,000 from operational budget savings.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or meltzere@dailycamera.com.