New, improved Columbine Library reopening to the public Saturday

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By Deborah Swearingen

After six months of construction, the newly renovated Columbine Library will open to the public on Saturday.

Work on the project, which cost just over $4 million, began in April and — save a few pieces of furniture — should be complete when the library reopens.

The West Bowles Avenue building was built in 1989 and hasn’t been updated since. Library-goers can expect to see a lot of changes when they walk through the newly placed doors of the library, and staff members believe these changes will create an improved experience for all.

“There are quite a few changes that are going to happen for the library, which are based on feedback that we got in the community meetings,” said Julianne Rist, who is Jeffco Public Libraries’ public services director and the Columbine project manager.

Some of the upgrades include:

• The library entrance now faces the parking lot.

• There’s a new drive-up book drop.

• There’s a children’s area near the entrance with a wall to address noise concerns and a separated story-time space.

• Five additional study rooms have been added.

• There is more natural light and enhanced views of the foothills and Johnston Reservoir.

The views of Clement Park, the mountains and the reservoir are something community members asked library staff to maintain.

“They didn’t want us to mess with the view,” said library manager Barbara Yeutter Roig. “Actually, I feel like what we’re doing is enhancing the view.”

While the size of the building has not changed, the renovations make it feels larger.

“We didn’t make it bigger. We couldn’t. We didn’t have the money,” Yeutter Roig said. “It stayed the same footprint. It’s just better purposed.”

Overall, Rist said, the new and improved facility represents what the community asked for, and she called it “a building that’s going to meet their needs and wants.”

In addition to the physical changes, there are infrastructural changes, too. The new library will, among other things, feature faster internet, new data cabling and LED lighting to save on utility bills.

“We were able to address the functionality of it for the community and also the structure and the infrastructure of the building at the same time,” Rist said.

Money for the upgrades came from a one-mill property tax increase, which Jefferson County voters agreed to in 2015. As part of the agreement, Jeffco promised to take care of its aging buildings — like Columbine — before expanding or building anything new.

In honor of the reopening, the library organized a special grand opening celebration with an official ribbon cutting, facility tours, food and more. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It is free and open to the public.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.