MEEKER I The new 2,700 square-foot addition to the Meeker Library has been a long time coming, but library director Mike Bartlett is happy to say that the addition is now open.
“The minute the contractor is out of here, we will be open for business,” Bartlett said in January. “It will be an exciting day when this is complete and we are fully operational.”
“There are still some things to do,” Bartlett said Monday. “But we now have the space to provide many more of the things the people of Meeker should expect from their library.
“One of those things is language instruction,” he said. “We have three language labs that provide more than 80 languages with customizable methods of instruction and all on your schedule,” he said. “There is a microphone to allow the program to check your pronunciation and the rooms are sound insulated, so you won’t be embarrassed talking out loud to a computer. Learners can also download lessons to their smart phones or tablets to practice between visits to the library.”
The $900,000 project adds roughly 2,700 square feet to the library, with the new area split into two areas of roughly 1,350 square feet each. One half is a general study room with four study labs and the other half is an outdoor courtyard.
The general study room has four cubicles that serve as various labs, including those used for language learning, Bartlett said. One is a complete audio/visual lab, equipped to enable the making of movies and contains a 3D printer and scanner and a green screen, which allows users to make full videos.
“I would like to make historical videos, like for the (Rio Blanco County) Historical Society,” he said. “There is a lot of historical material around here, and this will help the historical society or other groups record that history so it isn’t lost.”
The other three labs off the study room are classified as computer labs, Bartlett said, adding that the labs will allow the users to download information onto iPhones or they can do the work in the library addition.
“Computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) is used in every industry,” he said. “The 3D printing is CAD/CAM. You can use it to prototype your new and better mousetrap or duplicate that unobtainable part for the old Hudson in the barn,” he said, adding that the equipment in the new audio/visual room allows the opportunity to create and edit sound and video.
“Maybe we’ll see the next Stephen Spielberg or Rick Burns come through here; there’s talent all around,” Bartlett said.
“The main study room floor offers radiant heat and the floor is equipped with power outlets hooked to electrical sockets and to the Internet. The room also allows the programming and construction of computers.
There is also a large projector and two screens in the room, Bartlett said.
“On the horizon are fun classes in science and technology using, among other things, do-it-yourself computer-making kits,” he said. “These tiny computers can be programmed by the builder to perform simple tasks of being combined with other tiny homemade computers to do more-complex tasks.”
The courtyard is roughly 1,350 square feet and about half of that is covered. Between the courtyard and the study room is a wall of windows, which will serve as the entryway between the two areas. The windows completely retract into the wall, so the windows/wall can be open and closed to be used as a full wall or be completely opens to the courtyard.
The courtyard will feature a stage and there will be a large planter behind the stage that will be well landscaped by early summer, Bartlett said Monday, adding that there will also be two trees planted in the courtyard area.
“It is a good-sized stage, and it is my hope that it will be well used,” he said. “It is there for nearly anyone’s use; I would love to see jugglers, musicians and minstrels passing through utilize the stage. It has multiple uses and, hopefully, folks will find some creative activities to utilize it.”
The courtyard will also have benches and tables and allow the users of the library to just go out and enjoy it.
“It should offer a great place to relax, to play games, to study and to talk,” Bartlett said. “Libraries have a tendency at times to make folks self-conscious or make talking and discussions a bit too restrained. We want the folks to feel comfortable and free to talk or hold discussions, and I think that will be a benefit of the finished areas.
“Our courtyard has a stage, and we hope to start a Lunch at the Library program with entertainment of all kinds,” he said.
The library has roughly 50,000 volumes of books and periodicals on hand now, and the addition will not affect the existing library, he said.
“Public libraries have always been seen as free universities,” Bartlett said. “Our website provides access to all kinds of electronic resources from books for Kindle or Nook to databases centered on everything from small engine repair to children’s literature.
“You can learn anything here, and if we don’t have whatever it is you want on the shelves, we can usually get it within a few days,” he said. “Nothing will change in that regard, but now we have a hands-on component, too.”
The $900,000 addition is being funded totally within the library district, Bartlett said.
“This addition will be great for those who utilize the library, and we are quite confident that the new uses will bring in many more people. The library can be closed off from the addition to allow the addition to be used whenever the library is closed,” he said. “And the best part is, the library district has the funding for the addition, so we will not need to ask for any added tax dollars.”
Bartlett said “We hope our patrons will suggest new ways to use what we have or new things to get. This library is everyone’s library.”