The Mancos Public Library has 2,200 square feet that houses staff, computer users, children's reading groups, community activities and around 16,000 pieces of material, including books, video and audio tapes. Patsy Smith, the library director, shares an office with staff members that is bursting at the seams.
"We've had to put in additional shelving in front of almost all the windows. There s no place elose to grow. Every year when we plan, we try to figure out how to squeeze out a little more shelving space," Smith said. She added that books with lower circulation have been moved into storage to make way for more popular books. "If we get any fuller, it means more severe weeding of materials. Weeding is something we alays do, but it will have to be more aggressive," Smith said.
It is clear that the time has come for a new library facility. Plans have begun for a 6,800 square foot facility south of downtown and the Mancos River. "According to Colorao Public Library Standards and the size of the population here, this is the appropriate size," Smith said. She added that this will almost triple the current library space. Smith would like to utilize outdoor space by the river for reading and activities. The new facility would ideally have multimedia capacity for presentations and lectures, increased space for books, an expanded young adult collection, and a total increase to about 20,000 items. "More office space with staff work areas and a better flow around the circulation desk," she added.
Smith is preparing to welcome architect Dennis Humphries from Denver. Humphries was the architect for the Dolores library, one of the twenty public library projects he has been involoved in. Smith said that the library board chose Humphries for several reasons, including Humphries' library experience and his idea of looking at the town's architecture and history as part of the planning process.
"He loves to do these meetings and get community input," Smith said, referring to Humphries' visit to Mancos the weekend of November 17. Humphries will be available during a public meeting on Saturday, November 18 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Community Center.
Smith hopes to break ground for the new library facility during early summer, 2007, saying it will take about a year to complete the building with a grand opening during the summer of 2008.
The other side of the process is funding. "We're in a good place," Smith said. A mill levy increase for the new facility passed in November, 2005. "The funds from the mill levy increase will total about $86,000 this year. We're looking at getting a load as well," Smith said. The total budget for the project is $1.9 million, but Smith is confident that funding will be available.
"We've got a loan and we've just received a letter of approval for an energy and mineral impact grant for $350,000," she said. The grant is administered by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). Smith said she needed the DOLA grant to be able to solicit private foundations for fundraising and was delighted that the grant had been approved.
The library board will also raise funds by selling the current library property. Smith hopes a sale will go through in the next few months. "We're hoping to get $350,000 for this property," Smith said. An additional $200,000 will come from private foundation grants and a local capital campaign drive which will begin in early 2007.
Smith expressed hope that the community will participate in the project planning process by attending the community meeting on November 18 at the Community Center. "We have a vision, but we have to hear from residents," she said. "I do know that he will bring materials for people to look at and get ideas. It's an informal event. I think he will mostly be listening," she said.
From the Mancos Times