Changes are coming to Denver Central Library (some boring but important, some fun and important)

Phone booths are making a comeback.

A rendering of the new Acoma Street plaza. The design is not finalized. (Courtesy, City and County of Denver)

A rendering of the new Acoma Street plaza. The design is not finalized. (Courtesy, City and County of Denver)

staff photos

A new children’s library, event space and plaza are coming to the Denver Central Library along with upgraded tech, heating, air conditioning, and elevators.

On Monday, the Denver City Council signed off on a $45 million contract with Gerald H. Phipps Inc. for the face lift, which was approved by voters in 2017 as part of a bond package worth nearly $1 billion.

Central Library administrator Rachel Fewell said she’s most excited about the new children’s library, which will be updated and relocated, and a new event space that will move out of the basement and onto the first floor. Construction workers will renovate the Acoma Street plaza to create an outdoor extension to the event space that’s accessible for people with disabilities.

“We’ve really wanted to meet the needs of our community, and we’ve been unable to make some of these changes just because of budgets and large structural implications, so we’re very excited to meet more public needs,” Fewell said.

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A rendering of the new children's library space at Denver Central Library. (Courtesy, City and County of Denver)

The library, built in 1955 and renovated in 1995 with a design by architect Michael Graves, also needs new technology infrastructure. Faster, more reliable internet is coming to the library, since the web has changed a lot since the mid-’90s.

New all-gender restrooms, a more efficient heating and air conditioning system, new elevators and new plumbing are also on the way.

Plus, phone booths. Library-based social workers and peer navigators who help people take care of personal things like job applications and access to city services say 25 percent of people just need access to a working phone. So crews will install phone booths with landlines for the public to use.

Fewell said construction will begin in early 2021 and finish within three years.

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