Summit County South Branch Library in Breckenridge officially opens
If you go
What: Official opening of the Summit County South Branch Library
When: 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20
Where: 103 S. Harris St., Breckenridge
By the numbers
Here’s a statistical look at the new South Branch Library.
5: New employees hired
6: New display monitors in meeting rooms, including 5 smart monitors, 1 event monitor
10: New iPads
10: New Chromebooks
11: New phones, including 10 desk sets and 1 VoIP Mobile
12: Volunteers packed up 950 boxes of books in 13 hours for the move
25: New computers, including 15 public, 3 card catalog, 7 staff/circulation desk
25: Percent more space for books in new library versus old one
29: Steps from the library workroom to the circulation desk
70: Boxes of books from South Branch returned to other branches during library closure
1,474: Shelves installed and filled
36,073: Books, books-on-CD and DVDs moved from former library to new site, including 18,299 adult fiction and nonfiction, 1,240 young adult fiction and nonfiction, 5,512, junior fiction and nonfiction, 6,552 children’s fiction and nonfiction books, 186 kits, 260 audios, 125 videos, 272 CD-roms, 1,013 CD-books and 2,614 DVDS for kids and adults
1 million-plus: People served at the South Branch library on Airport Road in past 18 years
Sources: Pat Hasenfus, South Branch library branch manager; Joyce Dierauer, library director
Decades ago, when Colorado Mountain College owned the old brick schoolhouse on Harris Street in Breckenridge, there was a library, an old classroom full of books situated in a quiet corner curated by a single staff member.
“We had no computer. We had one comfortable chair, which two old codgers fought about every single day, and the kids had a little loft area,” Pat Hasenfus said. “It was basically a one-person operation; we closed at lunchtime, and everyone was always confused when we were actually closed.”
The years passed, and the library eventually outgrew that space and moved to a new building on Airport Road, expanding from 950 square feet to 3,400 to handle the 26,000 patrons who came through the doors each year. Hasenfus was promoted from a substitute through the ranks to become manager of the new Summit County South Branch Library, and the original quiet corner on Harris Street was all but forgotten.
More years rolled by, and the number of patrons served by the South Branch Library ballooned to nearly 100,000 per year. It was time to find a new home, and after a few conversations, eyes turned back toward that stately old brick building. A plan evolved, and after months of restoration and remodeling, the library has returned to Harris Street.
OPENING FOR BUSINESS
The new South Branch Library, part of the Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center, opens for business on Tuesday, Jan. 20, providing a place for everyone who ventures to walk through its doors, said Sarah Scheinman, library aide. The new library is also much more accessible to everyone who comes to town, from visitors to year-round residents to second-home owners, she said.
“Not many people happened upon our location on Airport Road, unless they were looking for City Market and found the library,” Scheinman said with a laugh. “People were looking for places to study and they didn’t have enough tables; there’s more room for the spaces we need for visitors.”
The library isn’t just a place for books and quiet study, though. There are all kinds of other treasures it holds that aren’t on most visitors’ radar.
“They don’t know that we have magazines they can sit and read or that they can check books out on e-readers using our catalog,” Scheinman said. “New mothers can come bring their babies — it doesn’t matter what age the kids are, they can come to story time.
“I’m always talking about the library to everyone. You can come see a movie, get a coffee, sit outside and talk. They don’t have to be a reader to come through the community center doors, there’s a lot here for everyone. But even if you aren’t, maybe you’ll be inspired to pick up a book while you’re inside.”
LEVEL BY LEVEL
The mezzanine level of the library is home to the bulk of the nonfiction book collection, Hasenfus said, as well as a fireplace nook with comfy seats. The mezzanine is also has two meeting rooms, which can be reserved by local organizations or simply used as study rooms for kids to work on projects together, Hasenfus said.
“It’s huge in Breckenridge because there’s just not enough room for all the groups that want to be here,” she said. “The meeting room space and the fact that it’s glassed in so we can keep an eye on it, that tempers the noise factor from both ends.”
On the west end of the mezzanine, a staircase curves its way downward to the library’s new reading platform, edged with large windows that provide views of the Tenmile Range. Continuing down to the main level of the library from the reading platform, doors open out to a new outdoor reading deck on the south side of the building. Equipped with a snow-melt system, and Colorado’s 300-plus days of sunshine each year, the deck will likely get a lot of year-round use, Hasenfus said.
“The outside reading deck will be my spot to take advantage of the sun and the views, the beautiful Colorado sun,” she said, adding that the deck is part of the library, so patrons can take books outside without having to check them out.
Fiction, media and local history are on the library’s main level, which includes public computers and a teen room, one of three age-group specific areas. Carol Christiansen, children’s programming manager for the library, said those areas are some of her favorites in the new facility.
“When you have kids that are upper fifth-graders and toddlers, in our old space, it was kind of in the same area,” she said. “It will be really nice for them to have their own sort of area.”
Teens can browse the books that line the shelves along the walls of the teen room or walk across the restored and reassembled gymnasium floor from the original schoolhouse to the new table booth, an inviting spot for young adults to hang out.
“Giving teens a place to be where they have their own space was a big goal of ours, and there is a study room off the space, so kids can be scholastic there; the other place they can be a little more social,” Christiansen said.
Across the hall from the main library stacks, children have their own pint-sized tables and chairs and a playscape to explore, and down the way is another special spot. Dotted with beanbag chairs and rows of brightly colored books, the original quiet corner library in the old schoolhouse on Harris Street has become the junior room.
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