In August I visited the North Branch of the Summit County Library (SCL) in Silverthorne. The high country surrounding the town is Colorado’s four season playground. With superb cold weather sports in the winter and spring, sumptuous wildflower blanketed hikes in the summer and pastel foliage in the fall, this is the epitome of what’s wonderful about the Rocky Mountain West, and SCL reflects that. Right on the three and a half mile bike trail that follows the Blue River, it’s a trim brick building encircled by trees, grass, benches and a picnic table. River rock against the structure provides drainage and a pebble legged seat of bright mosaic flowers bordered by blue sky in honor of a volunteer librarian invites you to lounge under the pines.
Dedicated in 2000, a green metal railing out front has an advertisement for the summer reading program (SRP) and local events are promoted on the door. Located by the police station and rec center, it shares the town hall parking lot and has recycling bins for cans, glass etc.
Just off the terracotta tiled lobby that holds a bulletin board and Friends booksale racks is a huge meeting room with a full kitchen, floor to ceiling divider and views of the nearby mountains. Decorated with Japanese prints, there’s a TV, DVD player, electric piano, and white boards.
The charming children’s area is conveniently close. There are a number of Spanish speakers here and often school age kids will introduce their parents to the library so it’s nice that informative brochures in both English and Spanish are prominent.
Lots of eye catching distractions populate this space – teddy bear, Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter bookends top the lower shelves, while Siberian white tigers look down from on high. The floor is filled with giant stuffed dogs, cushy denim back rests, a low couch, a busy bee pillow and furniture for the tiny set.
Light muted by the ecru blinds streams in and plenty of fresh air flows through the screened open windows. Hanging stars and a globe draw your gaze upward and posters and a glass cabinet of dolls of the world adorn the walls.
In the toddler section, easy book baskets are topped by a watering can filled with wooden tulips and a painted birdhouse and toys, a kaleidoscope, crayons and coloring pages cover the table.
A papier mâché volcano sits by a board full of dinosaur cutouts with kids’ names written on them for the Dig Into Reading SRP which had everything from programs on burrowing machines and creatures, caves and fossils to puppet shows. Beneath the “Help Your Child Get Ready to Read” poster from ALA are titles that teach the skills.
Tall cupboards for programming and craft supplies line one side by this colorful chair and there’s a computer with educational games. Next to the red metal new juvenile books stack, neat little media spinners lead into the shelves of DVDs for the older folks.
At the long front desk a step stool lets kids climb up to hand over materials for checkout. There are racks of hardcovers for sale and pamphlets and their old North Branch sign leans against it while awaiting its fate – it may be made into a table.
Children’s artwork and two glass cases of winning models from a Lego contest are featured by the entrance. A table has Power Check Meters for patrons to borrow and there’s a ten minute express web station.
This intriguing piece is over the copier machine. People hold up book covers with faces that replace their own.
By the entry to the adult area, there’s a binder of book reviews written by SCL staff – most headed “Special to the [Summit] Daily [paper].” These evaluations are also posted on their Facebook page, as are photos from events (love the shots of the owl, possum and snake from the Denver Zoo’s visit). The website has a Twitter feed and lists of newly added fiction, nonfiction and AV items. Users can download e and audio books, music and videos (by subject) via Marmot Library Network.
Attractive exposed beams and posts are very noticeable from this side as are the obvious overhead signs. There’s a dictionary stand and a lace curtained window looks out from the branch manager’s office onto the five public internet terminals (they have wifi too).
SCL’s main facility is right up the interstate in Frisco and there’s a South Branch in Breckenridge. Each of the locations has at least one storytime per week during the school year and they participate in the Colorado Library Card so any state resident can take out materials. With so many ski resorts, Summit County has a big temporary worker population, but a note from an employer gets anyone a card and for those who don’t speak English, the North Branch has three cases of foreign language, ESL and Español items.
Another wall holds this creative collage – move further away and some of them spell out “Bookmark.” I didn’t ask but I bet every thing in this mélange was recovered from books by staff – I once heard that someone found a piece of bacon used as a place holder!
SCL offers a variety of databases as well as access to Colorado Legal Service, an English/Spanish self-help source for civil matters. Users can get questions answered 24/7 since they are a member of AskColorado virtual reference. They can keep a record of their checkout history, borrow several types of projectors and screens for a home slideshow or sign up for any or all of the genre specific newsletters.
Large plants atop the shelves make it feel like you’re headed into the jungle, especially as the greenery is nourished by the rays coming through from one of three popup skylights in the ceiling, but intrepidly I ventured in to discover a roomy periodical area with four Queen Anne armchairs (two upholstered with a wildlife pattern reminiscent of the local fauna) with dark wood occasional tables between them.
Young adults have their own corner that’s embellished with a vivid otherworldly rug, red bookshelves, bean bags and high tables with barstools and a magnetic word play board that lets them form poems, funny sayings, or sweet sentiments. A “Summiteen” sign and the rainbow tinted backs of CDs joined in patterns trim the walls and a dragon kite and shiny tendrils holding disks hang from above. YA books and magazines, Cliff Notes and pamphlets on drugs and teen issues stock their stacks. SCL’s Teen Advisory Board decorates this space, plans events and bookclubs and recommends materials to add to the collection.
SCL has a foundation and Outreach delivers to residents who are physically unable to get to the library. Their spring theme was the water crisis with events for all ages including a hike, book discussions, panels and a tour of the local water plant. Other programs include travel slide shows (the one on avalanche survival is particularly appropriate for this snow loving region).
Summit County Library is truly a blessing for this beautiful spot!