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Use of Space

July 12, 2010

What’s different at the library, you wonder, other than the new bicycle parking? Other than the marvelous garden redesigned last year by a few of our local Master Gardeners?

And other than the six- to seven-hundred new items we add every month, and other than the couple-hundred magazine issues and couple-hundred Interlibrary Loans that come in each month.

Well … circulation for the first half of the year went up 15.8% over last year. But perhaps that’s not anything different, since last year circulation for the same period went up 14.8% over the previous year.

Sigh … remember when your stock portfolio went up like that?

The library’s art show is different. Tia Pleiman’s summer art students created “FIBArt,” an appreciation of Salida’s river community. You can’t miss the work if you come in, and especially the mural they made to dress the circulation desk.

It’s a fresh and remarkably accomplished collection of work by young artists.

The bicycle parking has been on my mind for a couple of years, at least. But, you know, one doesn’t want to rush into things.

I didn’t much want to pour more concrete around the front of the library, but it was necessary, and now we have many happy cyclists.

Black Sheep Mark DeLeo and his crew got the slab done nicely and quickly, and Tom Dickinson made an emergency visit at the eleventh hour to close off that section of the sprinkler system, and Shawn Gillis from Absolute Bikes took time after work to install the rack. Thank you all.

For all our loud trucks, this is a cycling town. A couple of years ago a friend came into the library beaming. He’d come down the street on his bike and saw that there were no cars parked in front of the library.

He thought for a moment we might be closed (which happens just nine days a year), but then he saw all the bikes parked around our old bike rack. It made him so happy to see that most of the people in the library had either walked or cycled there.

Of course, moments later, some cars arrived and parked, but nevertheless he had observed a true thing about our fortunate town.

Our library is much the same as it’s been while being continually renewed, like ourselves, like most living things. The collection is always changing and even its place in the building changes as we struggle to accommodate growing collections such as films on DVD and books on CD (now we even have books on MP3 CDs).

Next week, we’ll meet with some library planners to begin what might become a remodeling project. We’ll look at how we’re working and how patrons use the library, and what space we have left inside the envelope of this building and how we might use it better.

Circulation and library visits keep rising even though our district population has remained fairly steady over the last decade. No, the use hasn’t climbed from out-of-district use, which has actually dropped a little.

Work space within the library is at a premium. Plenty of people still come to sit and read, but then many others now come to sit and use the wireless internet access, as well.

The need for small meeting spaces has grown. Public libraries, for all the growth in their traditional services, remain important public spaces in our society.

We’ll be trying to improve how we use this particular bit of public space. Stay tuned.


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