In April, representatives of the Pikes Peak Library District updated the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners on the district's plans for the new library facility the district purchased last fall.
Previously occupied by MCI Inc., the new building is at 1175 Chapel Hills Dr.
At 112,883 square feet, the new building has more space than the district's two largest libraries, Penrose and East Library, said Kathleen Owings, president of the library district's board.
“We were looking for something central to the district but further to the north,” she said.
One of the district's smallest branches, the Briargate branch, will move into the new building. Despite its small size (8,000 square feet), the Briargate branch is third in traffic after the East and Penrose facilities, Owings said.
“The north part of town is a vastly underserved area for library services,” said Jill Gaebler, vice president of the district’s board. “There are 60,000 to 90,000 residents living in the 3-to-5-mile radius around the new facility, and the vast majority of these residents are young families and young professionals, all who love to use their library.”
With a purchase price of about $3.75 million, the district bought the building for $33 per square foot, compared with $250 per square foot it would cost to build a new library.
“I say that's a pretty good deal,” Owings said, adding that the district will incur no debt because it has been saving a long time for this purchase.
“This facility allows us to do something we've been planning for several years now,” said the district's executive director, Paula Miller. The district has been planning a “creative computer complex,” where technology meets the needs of the area’s writers, film makers and engineers – who might want to publish books, make videos and design new products.
“There will be numerous resources for them to do research and gather information, and the hardware and software to allow them to create something of their own,” Miller said.
The new library will have a MakerBot, a machine that makes plastic models based on specifications provided by the user. A light that generates its own electricity from wind is one example of what a MakerBot can do, according to the Web site for MakerBot Industries, headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The new library will also have an Espresso Book Machine, capable of printing books on demand; whether it's a public domain book that's out of print or a user-created book of poetry or short stories, the family genealogy or a scrapbook of wedding pictures.
“You will be able to print a copy and it will be immediately available,” Miller said.
The new building also has a 500-seat meeting venue – the largest in the district – as well as small and medium-size offices that will be converted into individual study and collaborative work spaces for study groups and businesses, she said.
There will also be an area where users can check out a laptop or bring their own and work in a cafe-like setting. “This is known as 'the third place.' It's a place you can go that's not home and not work but a place where you enjoy spending time,” Miller said. “We feel that this area will fit that bill.”
The new building also has room to consolidate administrative functions, freeing up space at other libraries. The East Library will have space for a homework center, a home school center to support home schooling families and a quiet reading area; the Penrose library will have room for a teen center.
“This offers us an opportunity to re-look at our model for community libraries,” Miller said. “We will be looking for scalable components we can put in the community libraries, as we work on this new facility.”
The new facility is scheduled to open in 2014.