Friday, August 8, 2014

Reimagining the Community Library

Ketchum to bring in library futurist to talk with locals

Express Staff Writer

    Take your idea of a library and turn it upside down.
    That’s what Denver-based architect and library futurist Dennis Humphries will be asking the citizens of Ketchum to do next week during a “reimagining” event at the Community Library.
    Humphries, of Humphries Poli Architects, got into the library business a decade ago when he worked on a redesign of the Rangeview Library District north of Denver, which had libraries described by news outlets at the time as the worst performing in the state.
    “They got a new executive director who took on the notion that they had nowhere to go but up,” Humphries said.
    Humphries Poli built four new libraries, newly dubbed “Anythink,” that were a deviation from the standard library formula. They abandoned the Dewey Decimal System in favor of organizing books verbally by subject matter, librarians became “concierges,” and book fines were done away with.  The four new branches contained sustainable infrastructure.
    The Anythink libraries and individual employees have won a host of national awards since their inception.
    “It was quite revolutionary at first,” Humphries said. “Now we’re seeing it happen across the country.”
    Humphries went on to redesign almost 50 libraries across the country, many of them in Colorado.
    He said each project came with a different vision and goal—one redesign included a community garden and self-contained kitchen and another contained space for fledgling businesses.
    “As a team, we’ve discussed some of the amazing possibilities that the library can offer our community, but we wanted to hear from the community what it might want to see from us,” said Cynthia Dillon, executive director of the Community Library.
    Dillon said the goal of the project is to “work with the wonderful structures and space we already have to consider an upgraded interior.”
    Citing the uniqueness of Ketchum, Humphries hopes the reimagining sessions will meld function with culture. The importance of snow sports, the resort atmosphere and the Community Library’s emphasis on regional history are all tantamount to the idea sessions, he said.
    Humphries’ self-described “mind-breaking” sessions will be held Wednesday, Aug. 13, at the Community Library, and he wants people to come with ideas to share. There are three sessions, each lasting two hours, which begin at 9:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

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