Arts & Culture

First Look: Inside the New Pitkin County Library

After a $15 million renovation, Aspen's flagship resource is ready to welcome readers.

By Katie Shapiro June 20, 2016

Amidst the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen finale, the much anticipated new Pitkin County Library celebrated its official grand reopening on June 19.

A crowd of more than 100 people gathered on the expansive great lawn for welcome remarks from the library's board of trustees head John Wilkinson and a project overview by Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards.

What began as a private library within the Wheeler Opera House in 1938 was moved to Main Street in 1966, where it remained until 1991. The current Pitkin County Library was relocated into the former Aspen Art Museum space in 2015 when ground was broken on the $15 million Mill Street remodel—a project that originated in 2008 and was funded by a capital campaign. The library still is seeking $550,000 to complete the fundraising goal, which closes on September 1, 2016, when a framed list of donors will be installed.

Snowdon and Hopkins Architects helmed the 7,000-square-foot expansion, replacing the library’s original wood walls with plenty of white and windows that make the tri-level space much brighter; each floor now also features a small meeting room and business center. Young bookworms couldn’t get any luckier, with a full wall of retractable doors that open up onto an outdoor reading nook on the main floor along with a cafè, a sound-room for music-making, and a “library lab,” decked out with a 3D printer.

On the mezzanine, we’re partial to the periodical section, of course, but here you’ll also find cozy seating for reading the nearby fiction books, an outdoor deck, and a private tutoring area. The lower level is where to hide out for designated quiet space, as well as find nonfiction titles and a soon-to-be-filled section of used books for sale.

Just before library trustee Barbara Reid and project manager Jodi Smith cut the purple ribbon on a bluebird day, former Aspen mayor Bill Stirling asked, “What’s the greatest search engine in the world?” He then answered his own question: “It's the library.”

We can’t wait to start looking and learning.

Visitor Info:
Pitkin County Library
120 N. Mill St., Aspen
Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–8 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.

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