Auraria Library is the only tri-institutional academic library in the nation, serving the students, faculty, and staff of three leading urban institutions: University of Colorado Denver; Metropolitan State University of Denver; and Community College of Denver. One in six college students in Colorado attend the Auraria campus. Because the vast majority of the student population are commuters, the Library aspires to be the heart of the campus and a student's home away from home.
Visitors: When the Library first opened in 1976, it was designed to serve a maximum of 15,000 students. Today, it is the intellectual home of over 51,000 students in the same 180,000 square-foot space and welcomes over 900,000 visitors each year. Weekly, as many as 25,000 people walk through the front door, an increase of 21 percent from just five years ago. The Auraria Library website receives upwards of 23,000 unique visitors monthly when classes are in session.
Holdings: The Library houses approximately 650,000 print books and provides access to 140,000 ebooks, 60,000 ejournals, and 280 million electronic resource records through our Summon Discovery service. The Library maintains 580 journal and newspaper subscriptions and 350 database subscriptions. The film and videotape collection has over 22,000 titles. (All numbers are approximate.)
Building: The Auraria Library building was designed in 1974 by internationally recognized architect Helmut Jahn, completed in 1976, and received a 1978 Excellence-in-Design award from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The building is two stories with a partial basement, totaling 180,000 square feet. It is a classic Free Plan building, characterized by exposed concrete structure, a regular column grid, and other building elements floating free of the columns. The building exterior consists of anodized aluminum and a glass curtain wall system with distinctive white metal louvers on the south and west elevations. In recognition of its continuing design merit, in 2009, the Auraria Library received the 25 year award from the Denver chapter of AIA. This award recognizes the enduring quality of architectural design that has withstood the “test of time” and still functions in its original capacity.
Administration: The Library is administered by University of Colorado Denver and the facility is owned by Auraria Higher Education Center. Funding for the Library’s annual operation is provided by all three higher education institutions based on a specific formula considering such factors as size of the student population and type of library needs.
Plans for the future: The past decade has seen two developments that challenge planners to think of the Library as serving a much broader educational role now and in the future. First, rapid changes in technology, especially the growth of the Web, have made it possible to discover information in virtual, as well as physical, space. As a consequence, time formerly spent searching for authoritative sources can now be invested in evaluating and interpreting resources.
Secondly, in response to the exponential increase in both the rate and volume of knowledge creation, changes in higher education now emphasize critical thinking and collaborative learning. Therefore, social spaces for informal learning and groupwork is now recognized as essential to contemporary teaching and learning processes. In response to both these factors, the Auraria Library is currently undergoing a multi-phase renovation. Phase One addressed the priorities identified in a 2009 student need assessment, including collaborative study spaces and upgraded electrical and wifi capacity. In addition, healthy food and beverage café options, informal social meeting places, and new restroom facilities were constructed. Fund raising continues, with the aim of further remodeling this downtown landmark to better advance contemporary teaching, learning, and research activities.