By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE—(March 18, 2014) Yes, construction is messy and intrusive, and parking will be at a premium while Colorado Mesa University’s new Cascade Avenue quad, expected to be complete this summer, is being built. However, the Montrose Regional Library—which shares its space with CMU–could not be more pleased with the expansion of Colorado Mesa University’s Montrose Campus.
“We have always had a very cooperative relationship with CMU,” Library Director Paul Paladino said. “The quad will provide more outdoor space, and I know that the vision is to offer some outdoor classes. I am pretty sure they will let us hold a story time or a program out there too. “
Paladino has served as library director for 22 years, and sees the big picture when it comes to this year’s campus expansion.
“Parking is a perennial issue here, and has been since we built this building, which is wrapped around the old Morgan School,” he said. “We spent a lot of time on the building—the sales tax passed in 1994, but we did not build until 1996, so we had a couple of years to kick ideas around. CMU has been with us from the start—we partnered with the idea of leasing space to them.”
At the time, the partnership made perfect sense, and it still does, he noted.
“We looked around and found the only entity with less money than we had,” Paladino said. “They were located east of town, in the complex where the John Deere outlet is. I remember that one of the classrooms had purple shag carpeting.”
The library itself was designed by Montrose Architects Patrik Davis and John Eloe, whose former building (245 South Cascade) is now being incorporated into CMU’s campus as a student center, to be safely accessed across the new quad.
As its partner entity grows, the Montrose Regional Library is also exploring new ways to grow and serve the local community.
Paladino said that his own five-year vision presently involves maintaining the welcoming, comfortable “feel” of the library, while at the same time breaking new ground in the ways that they serve readers.
“As libraries, we collect and organize stuff, information of all types,” he said. “Our job is to connect people with this stuff. So we are constantly looking at what barriers exist to getting books into kids’ hands.
“Research shows that whether you go to jail, how much you will earn, and how good your life is going to be directly correlate to your fourth grade reading scores,” he said, “and to how many books are in your home when you are under five. If you can get 500 books into the hands of a kid age 0 to five, he will do very well.”
The Montrose Regional Library is now exploring a trend that has started in the library community, of becoming not just collectors, but publishers, Paladino said.
“Good editors are in short supply, but the Internet has created more writers than ever before,” he said. “In the past, self-publishing has been considered ‘vanity’ publishing, but that concept is changing with the arrival of e-books. “
Local writers who are connected and knowledgeable about a subject or a place can now easily write their own articles and books, he noted.
“The best advice has always been to write what you know,” Paladino said. “We are following a model that actually started in Douglas County, of searching out and being open to locally published literature. Now, the state has taken on the concept and is experimenting to create a platform.”
Colorado’s libraries have always been innovative, he said.
“We tend to be forward thinking and cooperative,” he said. “We are one of the first and only states where libraries share items—we have a Colorado library card that every library belongs to, so that someone from here can walk into the Denver Public Library and check out a book.
“Now, we need to solve the e-book issue, and we are solving it,” he said.
Paladino said he could see the pride that the people of Montrose took in their community when he first arrived in town.
“I saw the Pavilion, the Airport, the Aquatic Center,” he said. “These things are evidence that people see this as a great community.”
The Montrose library’s development officer, Amy McBride, has done an outstanding job of conveying the library’s sense of excitement and possibility to the public through columns and other innovative means. Though not all rural libraries have such a visible development officer, McBride’s outreach efforts are so perfectly in synch with the local community that it’s now difficult to imagine the library without her.
“Amy embodies the spirit of Montrose,” Paladino said. “We do have an attitude here of, ‘get it done.’ If there is something we need to do, we do it.”
His five-year vision also includes a few other goals, he added.
“It would be nice to have figured out the universal problem, of how to engage teens who just come in here to be seen,” Paladino said. “I hope we can remain creative and innovative, finding and meeting the needs of our constituents.
“I want this to be a dynamic environment.”