Colorado was selected by the Aspen Institute as one of 5 locations to hold a dialogue on the future of public libraries in 2017. Colorado’s was the only statewide Dialogue to be held this year, taking place on May 24 and 25 in Denver.

Over 30 high-level statewide civic and business leaders gathered to discuss ideas about better leveraging public libraries to build more resilient communities throughout Colorado.

This dialogue raised the profile of public libraries with the non-library leaders, and pointed to new directions for partnership and leadership.

Governor Hickenlooper was on hand to share his views about the role of libraries and he identified state issues, in a “mini state of the state” address. He observed that, “the world is changing so rapidly…two of the most important assets a small community has is its’ library and its’ main street, and they are often in close proximity…libraries are the place people bring their children, where people convene and exchange…to make the community viable – it’s some of what makes it so attractive.”

The Aspen Institute Dialogue generated three distinct directions for public libraries:

  1. Fully leveraging libraries’ capacity to act as a civic convener in an increasingly polarized political climate in the U.S.;
  2. Finding ways to give youth a voice through collaborative efforts between libraries and other partners including state initiatives such as, Take Note Colorado* and the Apprenticeship program; and
  3. Exploring the development of workforce training modules, and connecting with the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN)

We anticipate the Aspen Institute’s report on the dialogue to be released sometime in August. In the meantime, the State Library is identify and pursuing action items around the 3 goal areas above, such as pursuing possible collaborations with the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) for civic impact and the Boys and Girls’ Club of Colorado for empowering youth, and becoming embedded in COIN for workforce innovation.

Please contact Jacqueline Murphy if you have any questions about the event.

*In summer 2016, Governor Hickenlooper convened a group of key Colorado funders, musicians and community leaders to develop a statewide music initiative. Hickenlooper shared his vision to provide access to music education and musical instruments to every K-12 student in the state of Colorado. Take Note Colorado took root and launched in January 2017 with our inaugural event Take Note: the Concert, occurring on May 4, 2017. Take Note Colorado is an initiative, housed under the newly-formed nonprofit organization, Colorado Music Coalition.