Editor’s note: The Aspen Daily News today introduces a new feature, Roaring Back to Life, that will highlight the local organizations that have transformed themselves in the wake of COVID-19. To be spotlighted in a business profile, please email reporting intern Cara Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Name of organization: Pitkin County Library
Years in business: 80
Address: 120 North Mill Street, Aspen, Colorado
Phone number: 970-429-1900
Number of Employees: 25
Aspen Daily News: What need do you fulfill in the community?
Kathy Chandler, Library Director: The library provides free access to books, movies, magazines and music for all ages. Computers, wireless, book clubs, summer reading programs, scanners, copiers, 3D printing, sewing machines and digital sound equipment are all examples of library services in normal conditions.
ADN: What do you love most about operating a business in the Roaring Fork Valley?
KC: Library use correlates closely with people's education. As Pitkin County boasts one of the most highly educated populations in the country, it's fun to work in an institution that is used with such frequency and enthusiasm.
ADN: How are you reacting to the new business climate?
KC: The library closed on the Ides of March (March 15), but continued to offer daily staff support by phone while increasing subscription capacity to on-line e-books, movies, magazines and newspapers to meet the sudden, drastically increased demand. A few weeks ago, when the stay-at-home order was lifted, staff began to fill requests for books from our collection and make them available for pick-up in the front foyer. Last week the library opened a computer lab. This week the state's library courier system resumed its route, making it possible for our card holders to once again borrow from a combined collection of 30 million items.
ADN: How have your consumers adapted to this new normal?
KC: People have been very understanding and were thrilled when they were able to check out books, DVDs and CDs again.
ADN: Have you sought federal, state, or local aid?
KC: There will be a library grant opportunity available next month for which we will apply.
ADN: What, if any, collaborations are you seeking in the local business community or with bodies like the Aspen Chamber of Commerce?
KC: The library is currently partnering with Aspen Words on the Community Read, providing books for free for those interested, and is working with the Aspen Art Museum on a similar project. Area teachers have provided support for our summer reading programs, and English in Action and the Aspen Historical Society are long time library partners.
ADN: What do you need to make it through the season?
KC: When the governor's order to close libraries is lifted, staff will move to the next step in reopening.
ADN: What does the future hold?
KC: The next stage in reopening will require stringent distancing procedures. Likely there will be no opportunity for working or lounging in the library building. Meeting rooms will not be available, and access to the children's library will be by appointment. We will continue to "watch the numbers" and to look forward to a return to full access for the public to all the uses of the building that we had been used to enjoying.
ADN: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not managing your business?
KC: Sorry to give such a stereotypical answer, but...READING!