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In Southeast Colorado, Libraries are access in the digital divide

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)

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.

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