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Manitou library preparing to move

Posted at 5:29 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 19:48:57-04

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colorado — The historic Carnegie library in Manitou Springs will not reopen to the public this year. Librarians will continue offering curbside services. However, the Pikes Peak Library District is planning to move its services about a block away as part of a partnership with the Manitou Art Center.

John Spears, Chief Librarian and CEO for the Pikes Peak Library District explained that the 110-year-old building is not ADA accessible.

The two-story building's main entrance opens onto a landing in between upper and lower floors. The one wheelchair-accessible entrance can only access the children's area. There is no elevator and the lone restroom is shoehorned beneath the staircase.

"We want to make sure that everyone has access to the building," Spears said. "Unfortunately, in a building like this, that's just not possible right now."

Manitou voters approved a special sales tax last fall, in part, to help fund accessibility improvements to the city-owned building.

Mayor John Graham explained that the community just began collecting that tax this month. However, a civil rights complaint filed against the library district under the Americans with Disabilities Act earlier this year threatened federal funding.

"Fortunately, I mean, the library district is being pretty gracious about it," Graham said. "I think, with this move, it eliminates the liability that the district is exposed to. So, we wouldn't want them to lose federal funding."

The library has had a partnership with the Manitou Arts Center for a couple of years now and Spears believes the move will give residents here a similar experience to other libraries in the district.

"A lot of people are probably familiar with Library 21 C where we have maker spaces and recording studios," he said. "We don't have anything like that in the western part of El Paso County."

When the library district took over operations at the Manitou Springs Public Library in 2013, they signed a 10-year lease on the building. City Council voted on Tuesday to let the district out of their lease early so they can move ahead with the plan to move. Spears anticipates opening in the new location later this year.

In the meantime, Mayor Graham said a city advisory committee will discuss long-term plans about the sales tax money and how to fix or improve the Carnegie building for a possible return in the future.

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