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Patrons of the Evergreen library want the place to continue its natural, traditional feel with some updates including changes to the teen and children’s areas.
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Officials at the Jefferson County Public Library have promised to bring ideas to the board at its May 19 meeting regarding the Conifer Library.
Executive Director Donna Walker told the board in April that library officials are rethinking how to improve access to that library inside Conifer High School, especially since Jeffco Public Schools plans to change school hours beginning in fall 2023, so school won’t end until 4 p.m.
Currently, the Conifer library opens on weekdays 30 minutes after school ends, which is at 3 p.m.
Members of the Conifer Area Council have spoken at the last several JCPL board meetings, indicating a need for a free-standing library in Conifer. They cite curtailed hours, lack of parking and difficulty getting into the building as issues at the current location.
In April, they presented a petition signed by more than 200 people asking for a free-standing library.
Those who provided ideas for the library redesign said they wanted it to be warm, quiet, comfortable and welcoming, with more self-service checkout kiosks and with the continued presence of the friendly staff to answer questions. They love the reading room in the back of the building, especially the fireplace and the ability to look at nature through the windows.
In terms of upgrades, they wanted great internet access, better accessibility, better signage and lower bookshelves to make it easier to locate materials.
The Jefferson County Public Library will redesign the Evergreen library, which was built in 1993, with no additions. The redesign will take place this year with construction in 2023. Total cost for everything from design through construction is expected to be $4.22 million.
On April 21, EUA, the company tasked with redesigning the building, briefed the library board on the results of surveys and meetings with library patrons about what they wanted.
Kelly Wemple with EUA said several people commented that they wanted a drive-up window to pick up and drop off materials, but that was outside the scope of the redesign because it would entail reconfiguring the building’s exterior.
Patrons said the children’s area should have reading nooks, flexible space, movable seating and a space for story time that wouldn’t be disruptive to patrons in the rest of the library. They wanted a lot of art and the space to be fun for children of all ages.
The results showed some wanted an enclosed area for teens while others wanted a more open area, both with study booths, and comments were mixed on whether to providing gaming, Wemple said.
Respondents said they wanted more enclosed small study rooms than the two now in the library, saying there was less need for open table space for people to work together or talk. They also wanted the meeting room to be configured so it could be used for more activities than it is now.
Several respondents suggested an outdoor area for activities, and board members wondered if there was a spot in the front of the building that could be used for that purpose.
"The message we heard is to use natural materials and emphasize outdoor views," Wemple said. "People want the library to have a good connection to the nature around the library.”
Board member Jill Fellman said she was struck by how traditional Evergreen library users want the library to be.
“They said while they want updates, ‘We like what we’ve got,’” Fellman said. “That is what really struck me.”
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