Genteel Georgetown

On our way to hike amidst the green and gold of the changing aspens in the high peaks that loom over town, we stopped in Georgetown, an historic mining community filled with elegant two toned Victorian buildings.  Just 40 minutes from the Denver Metro area, it’s a popular tourist destination.  So authentically Old West that several movies have been filmed here, it’s also the most easily accessible end of the road up 11,669′ Guanella Pass (the trailhead for Mt. Bierstadt, arguably CO’s easiest 14er to climb).

The library is a gracious multihued brick building in the center of town.  Vibrant blooms in hanging planters celebrate the short lived summer and a plaque above the front door announces it’s the John Tomay Memorial Library (JTML).

Seated in front of DVD housing that looks like mini steamer trunks, Jeff greeted me as I entered.  We chatted a bit about Clear Creek County Library District‘s other location ten miles down the highway in Idaho Springs.  Evidently that facility is temporarily in an old middle school while they add an elevator and remove a jail from the basement!

Everyone was friendly and informative.  After I explained that my blog highlights the uniqueness of public libraries I encounter in my travels, Gerry, a college professor, recommended Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles.

Two spaces on either side of the doorway invoke a handsome library of the past.  Bright white walls set off the gleaming, dark wood fenestration trim while matching shelves and a glass fronted case line the walls.  To the left, red blooms from long boxes outside fill the windows and upholstered chairs by a standing globe invite you to sit and soak up the ambiance.

The reference section lies across from this sun drenched reading area.  Here an antique desk serves a modern need by holding one of the seven adult computers.  They have wifi, as well as ebooks, e audiobooks, an enticing newsletter, oral histories, a very colorful facebook page with lots of photos and catalog access for mobile devices via LS2 Mobile (which also provides a neat graphics-heavy interface for kids).

Close to Reference, green shaded lamps sit on a large table looking out on a leafy courtyard with mountain views, umbrella topped seating, benches, planters, a fountain and the stone stepped entrance to Children’s.

Their web page has a number of interesting databases that were new to me including AtoZ Maps Online, a huge database of downloadable maps for non-commercial use.  They also have Global Road Warrior travel guides, Byki language learning, Signing Savvy (an online ASL resource), Universal Class (500 online non-credit courses) and LawDepot legal forms.

Heading toward the juvenile section, just behind the circulation desk, I noticed another day lit room with a paperback turnstile, more books, magazines and a beautiful old clock.

DVDs fill the shelves of the narrow hall to the youth area where light streams in through lots of windows and skylights.  Stuffed creatures and a model train top the shelves, while large mobiles, a table with wooden animal armchairs,  rocking chairs (and alligator and horse), a plethora of kids’ artwork and leopard print stools for the computers make it a welcoming place for youngsters.

There are YA fiction titles beneath the trains, and K-12ers can get online homework help from Brainfuse.  Toddlers have stories and crafts each Tuesday and during the summer the library hosted family picnic nights, arts and crafts in the park, a sleepover and a carnival.  Other programs include book groups, game nights, Spanish clubs, a Friend’s sponsored Author Night and a Moonlight Dinner Train fundraiser on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, an old narrow gauge steam train that, via a tangled route, manages to gain 640′ in altitude between here and neighboring Silver Plume two miles away.

Just outside there’s another sunny area where parents can sit at a wrought iron and wood bench while keeping an eye on their tots jumping around in this solarium with a bouncy net floor above ingeniously placed tomato plants.  Soon the cellar garden will be tiled with mosaics (and hopefully there’ll be a water feature too).

Looking back into the Children’s Room, Foster’s mural caught my eye.  Painted by Trisha Pollard, this tribute to the spirit of a wonderful child who died far too young continues above the cases on the left with two panels sporting a mountain lion mama and her cubs enjoying a Krumholtz landscape.

Intriguing collages in relief from the summer reading programs adorn the stairwell leading down to yet another luminous lounge where, beneath the solarium, nonfiction is found.

The basement includes a large booksale room at the end of a pink hallway decorated with old pictures including one of a parade of ladies in long white dresses riding bikes festooned with streamers up the town’s dirt covered main street.

Ascending the second staircase, I passed by a lost and found which held two tents – though I must admit to being a bit worried about the owners of these unusual misplaced items, they are completely typical for this backpacker’s Mecca.  In fact JTML seems to pride itself on being a bit different; they even sell messenger bags instead of traditional book bags.

As I was leaving, Jeff pointed out the head of Harry the buffalo, supposedly the last in Clear Creek, above the front door near a picture of John Tomay, the branch’s namesake.

Outside, I walked to the end of the building where a brass plate embedded in stone announces the benefactors of Library Corner Park, a flagstone patio opened in 2009. Planters, trees, and cafe tables look onto the stage that the Friends of the Library had built.  How delightful to find three separate al fresco spaces at a small library in a town of just 1000 people!

Belying its old fashioned charm, this location and its system have loads of innovative features for their service population of 9000!

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6 Responses to Genteel Georgetown

  1. John Ewers says:


  2. Elaine Dunn says:

    Awesome! You did a very good job! We have a very good Library!

  3. Lori Ventimiglia says:

    Sweetest Library Ever! Kid friendly, community centered, haven’t found anything like it since we moved! We miss it!!

  4. Justine says:

    Thanks everyone, it’s such a neat place – I was so amazed at all the interesting features!

  5. Charlotte says:

    Yes, on the surface it is really nice…..

  6. jlturner720 says:

    I always enjoyed visiting this charming library when I would come to Georgetown. It looks like I need to return to check out the changes!

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