Library innovation recognized

Andrea Cummings and sons, 3-year-old Wyatt, left, and Wesley, 5, make finger puppets in the Children’s Center of the Central Library on Tuesday afternoon. The family now lives in Grand Junction after moving from Alaska. Last week, the library was named “District of the Year” by the Special Districts Association of Colorado and will celebrate the award on Thursday.



Celebrate Mesa County Libraries’ “District of the Year” award from the Special Districts Association of Colorado at a series of receptions thrown by the Mesa County Libraries Foundation, which will provide cookies.

■ When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday

■ Where: The Central Library and branches in Clifton, Fruita, Orchard Mesa and Palisade

Mesa County Libraries director Joseph Sanchez knows his libraries have to be more than just a place to check out books and has worked for the past five years to evolve. Now, the library is being rewarded for those efforts.

Last week, the library was named “District of the Year” by the Special Districts Association of Colorado and will celebrate the award on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Central Library in downtown Grand Junction and at the Clifton, Fruita, Orchard Mesa and Palisade branches.

“We’re honored and pleased to represent Mesa County that way,” Sanchez said. “It says a lot about what we’ve done for the community.”

The Special Districts Association of Colorado has more than 1,700 member districts and 260 associate districts across the state and has given out the award for more than 25 years. This is the first time a library district has taken home the honors.

The SDA selects the winner from one of their member districts. There is no application process for the award.

“The Mesa County Libraries have put themselves in a place to be in the center of the community,” SDA Executive Director Ann Terry said. “They think outside of their own boundaries and that grabbed the attention of the association.”

Terry noted the expanded resources the library provides such as Wild Colorado — an app the library created to help users identify Colorado-specific animals — and the 970West Studio that gives patrons a chance to work in a multimedia studio.

Other extended programs include Words on Wheels, which brings services to the elderly and disabled who are unable to travel to branches, and the Career Online High School.

“You’ve got to do something to connect more,” Sanchez said. “We’re not a transaction business anymore. Patrons are expecting more events.”

Mesa County Libraries has eight branches and the 970West Studio in the county, circulating 1.4 million items annually.

Terry also lauded Sanchez for his efforts and said his passion for libraries is another thing that sets the district apart from others.  “His energy is so contagious and really a bright shining star in the library world,” she said.

“That’s what probably made it stand out even more.”


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