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Books on the move



Ever been kicked out of a Starbucks for taking up a table using Wi-Fi too long?

By 2014, Pikes Peak Library District will offer locals a new option for hanging about, with both latte and laptop — plus lots of learning opportunities.

In November 2011, PPLD purchased the former MCI telecommunications call center, located north of Chapel Hills Mall at 1175 Chapel Hills Drive. PPLD executive director Paula Miller opened up the space for tours last week, showing off some of the 112,883-square-foot space that will feature a business and content-creation center and serve more than 8,000 people.

"The mission of this library is to set people better in the future," Miller says. "We want to put focus on the people not on the books. ... We are calling it the all-end library. We very much want this facility to be a place where people gather to learn, to connect, and to create."

PPLD board president Kathleen Owings adds, "People may come here with their own laptop, stay and work for the day, because the future of library is not just for books. It's a place of diverse activities."

The two-story building, with plenty of natural light and a gorgeous view of the mountains, will increase the district's total square footage by almost 50 percent. It will house a 500-seat meeting/events room, a video studio, a teen center, a job seekers space, conference rooms, a 500-space parking lot, a large cafeteria/lounge space with food and beverage service and, eventually, the Briargate branch. And it will be at the top of the library tech ladder.

"We'll have a lab set up where our librarians and community partners will be teaching everything from video and audio editing to computer programming. We intend to have a 3-D printer with AutoCAD software, a sound booth for audio and video editing, and gaming development as well," PPLD spokesperson Travis Duncan says.

Duncan adds that this model of interactive content development will be coupled with the idea of a business incubation area that offers resources for business and hoteling, including smart boards and equipment for presentations.

Library internal operations will be relocated from Penrose and East libraries, in order to open up more public space at those locations.

The building, vacant since 2004, was purchased for $3.75 million — all with cash, Owings emphasizes, leaving no debt.

Though the facility needs renovation before opening for administrative use in late 2012, MCI left the building with features intact when the company decided, amid a nationwide cutback, to lay off its 650 local employees and close the telemarketing center. PPLD will be able to use many of the left-behind tables, chairs and cubicles as-is when public service starts.

Owings says that PPLD has some money already aimed at adapting the property, adding, "We will also be looking through the foundation for fundraising, private and public partnerships."

She notes that building such a facility would have cost $28 million.

Futurist Garry Golden from New York spoke before the tour about the future of libraries, including PPLD's move into the digital era, and the goal to make this new facility a community center.

"The role of libraries is to focus on building the knowledge base of how to do things in a way that creates a social connection, to bring the right people together to make businesses thrive," he said.

"It is really a future direction of libraries," Miller adds. "It is where we not only have users coming in, using knowledge, learning, but using the knowledge they find here to create things."

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