Association of College & Research Libraries

Colorado’s rich legacy

Ellen Greenblatt is assistant director for technical services at Auraria Library, University of Colorado at Denver, e-mail:

Tour some of Colorado’s libraries

Colorado is home to a variety of libraries. Take the opportunity to visit some when you attend the 10th ACRL National Conference here in Denver from March 15-18, 2001. A few of these libraries can be visited by taking advantage of preconference tours. Register for these tours online at denver.html. Others are just a short walk or bus ride away from the conference venue. Some will require some advance planning, but are certainly worth the trip.

A three-library tour

Let’s start with the tours. The ACRL library tour will take you to three different stops.

First stop is the College Hill library, a joint-use facility between the Westminster Public Library and Front Range Community College.

Located on the Front Range Community College’s Westminster Campus, this facility opened in April 1998. Designed by the architectural firm of Bennett, Wagner, and Grody, the 76,000-square-foot, two-story facility has two main entrances—one on the lower level meant primarily for public use and another on the upper level connected to the main campus building by an enclosed walkway. A long, gently curved wall with large windows on the northwest side of the building provides panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains.

A student reading by a window in the College Hill Library stacks.

The two libraries faced many challenges in developing the new facility, including integrating their online catalogs; overcoming staff concerns about job redundancy; providing parking for public patrons; and selling the library to constituents. Find out how these dilemmas were resolved as you tour this functional and attractive facility.

For more information, visit the Front Range Community College Library at the College Hill Web site at http://au.frcc.

-LIBRARYW and tlie Westminster Public Library at College Hill’s Web site at http://www. LibraryFacilities/collhill.htm.

The next stop is the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder Campus where you will visit the Jerry Craił Johnson Earth Sciences and Map Library, which opened its doors in January 1998 in the newly built Benson Earth Sciences Building. The Earth Sciences Library is the newest library facility on campus and is named for the mother of two CU graduates, one in geology and one in business.

Designed by renowned architects Michael Graves and Klipp ColussyJenks DuBois, the new Denver Public Library is an example of the outstanding modern architecture to be found in Denver.

The library covers about 11,000 square feet on two floors in the southwest corner of the building. The south facing windows of the first floor provide views of the campus and the Flatiron Mountains beyond. The collection supports teaching and research in geology and its various disciplines, physical geography, geographical information systems, and environmental studies.

The Earth Sciences Library is just one branch of the CU at Boulder Libraries—the largest library collection in the Rocky Mountain region with more than 11 million books, periodicals, government publications, audiovisual materials, microforms, maps, manuscripts, papers, broadsides, posters, and computer-based resources. The University Libraries consist of five additional branches—Math/ Physics, Engineering, Business, Music, and a main library, Norlin.

Special collections include the Willard Pamphlet Collection of 16thand 17th-century English printed tracts; the Epstein and Bloch collections of children’s literature; and the Leo Miller John Milton Collection of original photography by major photographers. For more information about the CU Libraries, point your browser to http ://www-libraries. frontpage.htm.

The final stop on the tour is netLibrary, Inc., which is also located in Boulder. netLibrary is the world’s premier provider of electronic books providing 24/7 access to the more than 28,000 titles in its online collection and providing the ability to search the full-text of each electronic book. However, netLibrary still operates under the traditional library model allowing only one person at a time to access each e-book (unless the library has purchased more than one copy). Users “borrow” the e-book for a set loan period, and the book is automatically “returned to the library” when the loan period is over. Learn more about this innovative company by touring its production facilities and participating in an online demonstration. Lunch will be served in their auditorium.

The Colorado Springs tour

The Colorado Springs tour will culminate in a reception at the new El Pomar Center (EPC) on the CU at Colorado Springs campus (still under construction at this writing). Monitor the progress of the construction by pointing your browser to the EPC Webcam at This 108,000-square-foot facility houses the Kraemer Family Library and the Information Technology Services Department.

A primary feature of the facility is the Information Commons Service Area, which organizes workspace and service delivery around an integrated digital environment. The facilities will also house a television studio, media center, teleconferencing rooms, student multimedia development facilities, computing services, and computer labs. For more information about the Kraemer Family Library, see http:// web. uccs. edu/library/.


Yet another tour opportunity will be a visit to Preservation and Access Service Center for Colorado Academic Libraries (PASCAL), the newest high-density remote storage facility in the United States. The purpose of this facility will be to provide space-efficient storage for up to 1.6 million infrequently used volumes in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. It is a joint public-private venture between the CU at Boulder, the CU at Denver, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and the University of Denver.

With a planned opening in January 2001, this $4.1 million facility will store low-circulation materials on 30-foot-high shelves arranged by size rather than by classification number. Items will be organized by a unique barcode method for retrieval. Materials moved to PASCAL will continue to be reflected in the online catalog of the owning library and users will be able to request delivery back to their home campus.

The facility replicates a design that originated at Harvard and has been copied in nearly two dozen sites across the country. This tour will overview the construction, management, and retrieval of materials in PASCAL. See http://www-libraries.Colorado, edu/ttp/iaa/offsite.htm for more information about the facility.

Do-it-yourself tours

There are several libraries within walking range of the Convention Center so you can create your own tour. One of the closest is the Denver Public Library (DPL), which is world-famous for its collection of western Americana and its model children’s library. DPL’s Western History/Genealogy Department is recognized for its superior collection of genealogy resources and its historical collection of maps, manuscripts, and photographs that present the development of the trans-Mississippi West with a focus on mining, Native Americans, and local and regional history.

Another major collection emphasis is conservation. The photographic subdivision has become renowned for its pioneering digitization work, illustrated by its recent incorporation into the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress. For more information about the DPL, visit http://www. For more information about the Western History/Genealogy Department’s photography collection in particular, visit

Also located downtown is Auraria Library, a unique academic library in that it serves three separate institutions—the CU at Denver, Metropolitan State College of Denver (the nation’s largest baccalaureate-only institution), and the Community College of Denver. The library and surrounding campus are located on the site of one of the earliest settlements in Colorado, the town of Auraria.

Historic preservation is an important element on this urban campus. Stroll down 9th Street park to get a feel for 19th-century Denver or visit the former Tivoli Brewery (which now serves as the student union).

While not a historical landmark, Auraria Library, designed by Helmut Jahn of C. F. Murphy Associates and built in 1975, won an American Institute of Architects Distinguished Building Award. Major collections include the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Collection, the Thonssen Rhetoric Collection, the Bebee Juvenile Literature Collection, and the National Municipal League Collection. For more information see

Just a short bus ride from the Convention Center to north Denver is the recently renovated and expanded Dayton Memorial Library at Regis University. This renovation features an unusual variety of individualized study spaces, as well as small group study areas and a parent-child room, all wired for Internet access. A fully equipped electronic classroom of unique design is heavily used by librarians and teaching faculty alike. The architect for the project was Weese, Langley, Weese of Chicago.

Of regional importance is the Regis collection of Santos, artistic depictions of saints by Southwestern artists. It is one of the largest Santos collections in the United States and a portion of the collection is always on display in a special gallery. Find out more about the library by visiting http:// www. regis. edu/lib/dmlhome. htm.

Another Denver-area academic library is Penrose Library at the University of Denver. The Penrose Library and its music branch house more than 2.8 million items of material, including books, periodicals, microfilm titles, and government documents. Significant collections include the Husted Culinary Collection, one of the larger cookery collections in the United States with more than 8,000 volumes; the Victor Miller Civil War Collection; the Beck judaica Collection; and the Davis Moore Collection of Books about Books and Printing. Manuscript collections include the papers of William Barrett, author of Lillies of the Field and The Left Hand of God, and the papers of Colorado Congressman Wayne Aspinall. Visit the Penrose Library homepage at http:/www.penlib.

Situated in Fort Collins about 65 miles north of downtown Denver, the Colorado State University (CSU) Libraries consist of Morgan Library and two branches, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Atmospheric Sciences (located on the Foothills Campus).

Library holdings include more than 2 million books, bound journals, and government documents. More than 20,000 journal subscriptions are available in the Journal Reading Room and more than 500 subscriptionbased electronic resources are available either onsite or by remote access. The collections are enhanced by an expedited interlibrary loan service for delivery of materials from other libraries.

The Benson Earth Sciences building at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The Morgan Library addition and renovation project was completed in the spring of 1998, and the library now offers both one-on-one and group instruction on information resources and provides more than 200 public terminals to access specialized indexes and Web-based sources. Wireless technologies have been installed throughout the building, providing connectivity anywhere within Morgan Library. Special collections include the Vietnam War Literature Collection, International Poster Collection, Germans From Russia Collection, and the Dr. D. K. Bailey 19th Century Botany Collection. Visit http://manta. to take a virtual tour of the library.

Located roughly 50 miles northeast of downtown Denver in Greeley are the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) Libraries, which consist of the James A. Michener Library and two branches, the recently constructed Music Library (which opened in 1997) and the Laboratory School Library, which collects fiction and nonfiction learning resources and media for use in grades K-12.

The libraries’ collections include more than 1.5 million items in monograph, periodical, government document, audiovisual, and microform formats. One of the highlights of the Michener Library is the recently constructed, cutting-edge Information Literacy Presentation Facility, the backbone of UNC’s innovative information literacy curriculum.

Another treasure is the James A. Michener Special Collection, which was created when the Pulitzer Prize-winning author named UNC the international repository for his papers, artifacts, and memorabilia. Michener taught at the university in the 1930s and received his master’s degree from that institution. To find out more about the UNC Libraries, visit their Web page at

Take a virtual tour

There are many more libraries throughout Colorado. To find out more about the various special collections throughout the state, visit the Special Libraries in Colorado Web site at The site’s database is searchable by name, county, and subject.

Or turn to another wonderful site for learning more about Colorado libraries—the Colorado Digitization Project (CDP) at http:/ / The CDP is a collaborative initiative involving Colorado’s archives, historical societies, libraries, and museums. The Project is creating a digital library-museum highlighting Colorado’s varied historical and cultural resources. This information-rich site is a must-visit for anyone interested in digitization.

Another useful site is the Access Colorado Library and Information Network (ACLIN) and the Colorado Virtual Library at—a cooperative project of the Colorado State Library and the Colorado library community to provide access to the information resources of the libraries throughout the state in support of education, business, health, social service, and personal growth activities. Visit the “about” section of this site to tour the Colorado Virtual Library or download a free Colorado Virtual Library Screen Saver.

So whether you visit virtually or in person, you're sure to discover what we Coloradans have known all along—that there is a rich library legacy through the state, highlighting both innovation and tradition.


  1. Author Ellen Greenblatt would like to thank the faculty and staff of the featured libraries for helping her compile the information for this article.
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