Awesome Arapahoe

Having studied Spanish for the last six years, I was interested in seeing Arapahoe (CO) Library District‘s (ALD) Sheridan branch.

Sheridan Library is  inside the Sheridan High School

Sheridan Library is inside the Sheridan High School

Like Denver, about a third of the population of the city of Sheridan identify themselves as Hispanic, though they comprise only 11% of the Arapahoe County population.  Rather than funding their own library as some local communities such as Littleton do, they cost effectively decided to become part of the huge county library district with its numerous resources and plethora of services.  In fact, Sheridan Library is also the de facto high school library (though this may change in future years – see this update) and is even busier at lunchtimes and after school.

They manage to fit quite a lot into this small space though, and still make it welcoming.  A sandwich board out front announces Cafe con Libros, Sweet Treats and Hora de Cuentos (story hour) in multicolored chalk and the sign on the door gives the facility’s name and hours in Spanish and English.

Your reward for coming into the library!

Your reward for coming in!

Once inside, Lizet and several other friendly staffers greeted me and answered some of my questions as I noticed that Xpress titles – extra copies of the hottest, newest items that can’t be placed on hold – are available for lucky browsers near the self service holds pickup and self checkout stations.

To the left, a rainbow glow is cast by beautiful stained glass in memory of Marge Smith.

This pretty piece makes for an interesting outlook

Window gives a pretty outlook

They have wifi and 10 fully loaded internet stations with Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc.  Additionally, there are six laptops on mobile tables, cleverly outfitted with high, numbered flags so staff can find them as they’re moved to the most comfortable or convenient area.  Sheridan also has classes on internet and Windows basics as well as one-on-one computer labs.

ALD has an extensive list of research databases including Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgo  and Business Decision.  The website offers downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, music and mobile apps and you can ask questions via text, phone, email and Twitter.

Laptops on movable furniture can also be unplugged if you'd rather sit in a comfy armchair

Laptops on wheeled tables can be unplugged if you’d rather sit in a comfy armchair

As you’d expect, Sheridan has a large Spanish language collection, one of three in the district.  Smoky Hill, close to ethnically diverse Aurora, and Eloise May in Denver have the other two, though a decision was recently made to float the collections (i.e. materials borrowed from them will stay in the branch where they are returned).  Sheridan does have several positions where Spanish fluency is required, so a Spanish speaking staff member is always available to help.

Large colorful painting above some cushy seating

Colorful painting above some cushy seating

Eloise May also has a big Russian collection as it’s right by Glendale, which is recognized as one of the places in the US with a large number of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.  I was surprised to see that Oksana’s nametag was in Russian and English, but she’s one of the floating Patron Service Specialists who move around to various branches.

And Arapahoe has another “specialized” facility – the Southglenn location is a “neighborhood” library (i.e. it’s set up similar to a book store and focuses on popular materials like Schlessman).  Covering such a vast part of metro Denver (the county extends from close to the mountains to way out on the eastern plains) it’s a big district with a substantial budget and lots of resources that allows it to be quite innovative.  With programs ranging from Russian Storytimes, finger knitting, guidance for New Americans, folk dancers, legal consultation and talks on how to keep your children safe to marketing classes, musical interludes, author events, loads of computer and craft classes, talks on CO wineries and becoming gluten free, there’s something for everyone.  You can book a librarian, get help with early literacy or use a meeting room for free.  Patron surveys give feedback on where they can improve or you can comment via email and the three Facebook sites.  Users stay informed via four Twitter feeds, a newsletter, Pinterest and flickr.

Plenty of tables for teens to work together and part of the Spanish collection on the wall to the left

Plenty of tables for students to work together and part of the Spanish collection on the wall to the left

This branch has gaming and book clubs for teens as well as craft events like Glass Art. Adults can join book clubs or English classes, attend Kindle and Picasa (web photo sharing) workshops, go to GED information sessions in Spanish or programs on the CO courts and last month there was a holiday open house with crafting complemented by the strains of a hammered dulcimer.

After passing the CD and DVD shelving, graphic novels and manga, I had to try the fabulous Rube Goldberg machine that the Arapahoe Library Friends Foundation funded.

The Kid's Department  in my old library has one - often unplugged as the thunking and bonging drives them nuts ;)

The Kid’s Department in my old library has one – often unplugged as the thunking & bonging drives them nuts 😉

Accompanied by this melodic sound I perused the Children’s Area with its wonderful shelving.  I love the picture book holders which have a space on top for displaying books, then a bin to flip through them, and beneath, pull out shelves for even more items.  The ends of these gorgeous wood cases have mounted busy-box games and mirrors to keep crawling babies entranced.

Love the red and white table for toddlers and the modern design of the rocking chair

Cool red and white table & seats for toddlers atop an alphabet rug and sculpture-like rocking chair

Sheridan offers a number of family storytimes, including one every Saturday in Spanish and another celebrating Colorado in song and story.  Programs like Cowboy Fun get tots in the spirit of the season (January is Western Stock Show time in CO).

On one side of the room a rotating spindle holds board books, next to a chest containing coloring supplies.  I opened the drawers and each one had a glassed over seasonal display.

Lots of ways to keep the kids busy while the guardian chooses books

Lots of ways to keep the kids busy while the guardian chooses books

On the other side, by the oversize storytime books and book/CD combo packs, vibrant wicker baskets each hold a trove of playthings including etch-a-sketches, toy animals, jigsaw puzzles, foam blocks and magnetic letters beneath a fish tank with glass (see through) catfish.

Even more baubles - no one ever gets bored here!

Even more baubles – no one ever gets bored here!

And on the back wall (which looks into a high school hallway) are more Spanish language kid’s books, movies and books on CD beneath English as a Second Language packs, some of which enticingly resemble race cars, motorcycles and trucks and contain books, CDs, DVDs and a guide.

English as a second language learning kits shaped like motorcycles, race cars and trucks - with the high school hallway in the background

ESL kits shaped like vehicles

What a nice, cheerful place with a great handle on how best to serve their clientele!

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2 Responses to Awesome Arapahoe

  1. So jealous of the children’s area, great display shelves, lots to do and a fish tank!!!!

  2. Justine says:

    I completely agree, they really make it a fun place for kids to visit and it has some of the most unique children’s shelving I’ve ever seen.

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