Keep Colorado Journalism, Local. Donate to PULP.
Patrons at the Pueblo City-County Main Library use library computers on a sunny afternoon. Libraries across are becoming bridges for patrons to access digital services and social services – as they are shifting what it means to be a library of the future. (Photo PULP)

In Southeast Colorado, Libraries are access in the digital divide

Last updated:

Across Colorado, libraries that were built over one hundred years ago are still serving their communities.

These libraries don’t just check out books, however. Colorado libraries are taking on new roles, from social services to cutting edge technology.

In the small town of Trinidad, technology draws many people to the library, which serves the largest land area of any public library in Colorado.

“Our computers are full most of the day,” said Mallory Pillard, director of the Carnegie Public Library in the old mining town. “People play games, check Facebook or print important documents for taxes or file for divorce. It’s entertainment or important life work, and everything in between.”

The Trinidad Library is named after Andrew Carnegie, a steel industrialist from Pittsburgh who funded thousands of libraries across the United States between 1883 and 1929. Those library buildings are now historic structures that are referred as Carnegie libraries. Across Colorado, 18 Carnegie libraries still operate as public libraries, but look very different from the days that they offered only books and newspapers.

Pillard said that in Trinidad the library building itself had to transform to accommodate the needs of a modern community, including a rewiring project last year to allow faster internet speeds. “Obviously Andrew Carnegie and the people that built this library didn’t think we would need networking stuff here,” said Pillard.

In Pueblo, the Pueblo City-County District Library is redefining what it means to be a library.

Across Colorado, libraries that were built over one hundred years ago are still serving their communities.
These libraries don’t just check out books, however. Colorado libraries are taking on new roles, from social services to cutting edge technology.
In the small town of Trinidad, technology draws many people to the library, which serves the largest land area of any public library in Colorado.
“Our computers are full most of the day,” said Mallory Pillard, director of the Carnegie Public Library in the old mining town. “People play games, check Facebook or print important documents for taxes or file for divorce. It’s entertainment or important life work, and everything in between.”
The Trinidad Library is named after Andrew Carnegie, a steel industrialist from Pittsburgh who funded thousands of libraries across the United States between 1883 and 1929. Those library buildings are now historic structures that are referred as Carnegie libraries. Across Colorado, 18 Carnegie libraries still operate as public libraries, but look very different from the days that they offered only books and newspapers.
Pillard said that in Trinidad the library building itself had to transform to accommodate the needs of a modern community, including a rewiring project last year to allow faster internet speeds. “Obviously Andrew Carnegie and the people that built this library didn’t think we would need networking stuff here,” said Pillard.
In Pueblo, the Pueblo City-County District Library is redefining what it means to be a library.
In recent years, the library has studied what Pueblo residents need to lead informed, active and connected lives. The result is a library that looks and sounds very different from the quiet book depositories of yesteryear.
“It’s very busy, full of children, with lots of people in the neighborhood,” said Midori Clark, Director of Community Relations for PCCLD. “The library is a busy place with a lot going on.”
In May, Pueblo City-County District Library was awarded the National Medal of Honor for Museum and Library Service, the highest honor in the United States for cultural institutions.
In granting the award, the Institute for Museum and Library Services commended PCCLD’s “responsive services for unique needs.” The library’s responses to community needs including opening three new branch library locations in 2014 in the neighborhoods that needed services the most.
The services offered at Pueblo’s libraries include much than just books. At PCCLD, Pueblo residents connect with much-needed social services like housing or food resources.
“People don’t think of the library as a place where you can get a high school diploma,” said Clark. In May, five Pueblo residents graduated from high school through a library program designed to help adults earn diplomas online.
Library staff saw some residents visiting to check out books needed additional help, like finding affordable health care. In response, the library hired a social worker to help the Pueblo community. Residents visiting the library could also find out where to get shelter, legal help or food resources.
While it may seem unusual for the library to offer social service connections along with books, Clark says many libraries across the country are transforming into resource centers for people in need.
“Other government agencies might seem scary or daunting if you don’t have all of the paperwork or all the the answers,” Clark said. “We strive to be that non-judgmental place where everybody is treated with respect.”
Libraries across Colorado are looking toward the future. Many libraries responded to the explosive growth of e-readers by adding digital books that can be borrowed and downloaded directly to a tablet or smartphone. Other libraries respond to the digital divide by providing a place where people can connect in person, seeing a role for the future as a community center.
“The library is that place where anybody can come,” said Clark. “We are friendly and welcoming and everyon…
Thanks for reading this short excerpt from the paid post! Fancy buying it to read all of it?
Read now, pay later

This article
In Southeast Colorado, Libraries are access in the digital divide
0.44
USD

Week Pass
7 days access to all content on this website.
3.99
USD
Full Access for 1 Month
Support PULP journalism for 1 month. (cancellable anytime)
10.00
USD
Full Access for 1 Year
Support PULP journalism for 1 year.
100.00
USD
Powered by

Buy a time pass or subscription to read the full content.

Zeen Social Icons