5 Ways Colorado Libraries Are Going Beyond Books

Sep 15, 2014

Everyone knows what a library is about. Think rows of bookshelves and research computer terminals. People reading in quiet solitude.

But some Colorado libraries are starting to step outside these traditional definitions. Offering something more than just books, magazines and ebooks. In Arapahoe County, you can take Google Glass for a test spin. In Adams County you can print out your latest creation with the library's 3D printer.

"We are really shifting and think of the library less as a place to warehouse books, and more of a place where you can come and interact with information in a new way and actually participate in a new experience," said Stacie Ledden, communications director with Anythink Libraries, the public system for Adams County, Colorado.

Studio guide Mo Yang records a young Anythinker in front of the green screen. Cameras and iPads are available for checkout to teens working in The Studio.
Credit photo courtesy of Anythink

Ledden is spearheading Outside The Lines: Libraries Reintroduced, a seven-day national event aimed at inspiring people to revisit what their library has to offer.

"We want to create a framework for libraries to tell their stories in a whole new way," said Ledden. "We can't just tell people how libraries have changed; we need to show them."

If you're ready for something more than a paperback, here's a sampling of what Colorado's libraries have to offer:

Multimedia Tools - Anythink Libraries, Adams County

Anythink created The Studio at Wright Farms, which has HD cameras, a green screen, tripods, lighting kits and editing software. And that's just for video. There's an audio recording studio, graphic design software and gaming computers. At location in Brighton, the focus is on textiles and crafts with sewing machines, a 3D printer and digital photography lab. The Studio is geared toward teens, but there is programming for adults. If gadgets aren't your thing, there's also a community garden.

Tech Gadgets - Arapahoe County Library District

They have robots! Check out the programmable Finch to learn computer code. Patrons can also reserve time with a librarian to get an introduction to Google Glass or Oculus Rift equipment for virtual 3D gaming. GPS devices, Nooks, and GoPro cameras are also available to check out. Arapahoe has its own Studio for hands-on tech learning at its Smoky Hill and Southglenn locations, which have green screens, iMacs with iMovie and Garage Band.

Grow Your Own Garden - Basalt Public Library

Filed deep in the stacks near The Grapes of Wrath, you can check out seeds for Black Beauty Eggplant. Basalt is one of about 25 libraries across the country partnering with seed libraries to offer up cheaper ways to cultivate plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables. How does it work? You can check out a packet of seeds, let them grow, harvest new seeds and return them to the library. There's 60 seeds available in the 2014 collection — including French Breakfast Radishes and Amish Snap Peas.

Local Music Streaming - Denver Public Library

Tired of hunting through the same old CD collection? In Denver, you can stream and download music from local bands. If that doesn't capture your interest, the awesome band names alone are worth browsing through. Highlights include We Are Not A Glum Lot and Wheelchair Sports Camp. The music website, named Volume, is free if you have a Denver Public Library card. The collection is regularly updated with new music.

Cultural Events - Jefferson County Public Library

In JeffCo, a library card also gets you a Culture Pass, where cardholders can reserve passes to access local museums and attractions. Spots include the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, History Colorado, Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center and the Golden History Museum. JeffCo explains the full process of how it works here [.pdf].