Byers Branch Library Renaming Effort

The Denver Public Library has completed the process to rename the Byers Branch Library. Updates will be posted on this page throughout the process.

Join us as we celebrate the renaming!

A community celebration for the renamed John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library 

Saturday, Nov. 13
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Open to the public, all ages welcome

John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library
675 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204

flyer for event with picture of John "Thunderbird Man' Emhoolah

Community Voting is now closed

In-person voting took place at the Byers Branch Library.

Why Are We Renaming Byers Branch Library?

In the last two years, Denver Public Library has been working on a new strategic framework to serve our community in the next ten years. As part of this effort, a new vision, mission and values were developed with involvement from staff, partners, commissioners and community. We are guided by our core values which are: 

  • Welcoming everyone 
  • Fostering curiosity 
  • Strengthening connection 
  • Challenging inequity 
  • Honoring public trust

These values guide our work daily and have helped us establish our priorities during the pandemic and social unrest. As we learn more about society’s challenges, we remain curious and ask ourselves how we can be part of the necessary change to create a strong community where everyone thrives.

We understand that a name change is a small effort but we believe incremental efforts can lead to bigger changes. Our team researched branch names and found disturbing information that doesn’t support our vision, mission and values. It’s for this reason, Denver Public Library is renaming select buildings.

Renaming Community Committee 

As part of this renaming effort for Byers, a community committee consisting of a diverse group of people from the community is guiding the process. This committee works with library staff to engage the community in a process to rename the Byers Branch. The committee is facilitated by Commissioner Jehan Benton Clark and Councilwoman Jamie Torres.


The Renaming Community Committee has developed the below criteria for the branch.

I. Person 
If you are recommending the branch be named after a person, please consider the following: 

  • Person must be deceased. 
  • Significant civic service and contribution to the local neighborhood/area surrounding the Byers Branch or Denver. 
  • Neighborhoods include Lincoln Park, Baker, Alamo Placita  
  • Member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.
  • Historical figure. 
  • Cultural, ethnic and diverse background. 
  • A connection to the library, reading or literature

II. Words with meaning 
If you are recommending any type of lyrical name for the branch, please consider the following:

  • Words in algonquian spoken by the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes or other languages that represent the community surrounding the branch and have a special meaning and connection.
  • Words that are symbolic and describe a feeling, place, value, etc. relevant to the community. 
  • Neighborhood, geographic, or common usage identification. 
  • A historical place, event, or other instance of historical or cultural significance
  • Natural or geographical features, such as plant materials, streams, rivers, lakes, and creeks. 
  • Name of a book or a poem that celebrates the community.

Recommendations are currently being researched by a group of library staff to ensure names are ethical, appropriate and support the core values of the organization. The Renaming Community Committee will review all recommendations made and vote on the top recommendations. The top recommendations will then be voted on by the community. Please see the timeline below for more information. 


August 2020
The Denver Public Library Commission began considering a branch rename. 

September 2020
The Commission tasked the library staff with developing a process to engage the community in a conversation to learn if the community was open to reconsidering the branch name. 

November 2020
Library staff met with public officials and community leaders from the surrounding community of Byers to gather feedback. During a virtual meeting, members of the community requested that the library move forward with a name change. 

December 2020 - January 2021
Library staff met with a variety of members from the community to discuss branch renaming. Conversations with the Native community in particular have helped inform this process. 

February - March 2021
Recruited community members for the community committee. 

May 2021
The community committee began meeting to discuss the process to rename the branch. Preliminary naming criteria was developed. In addition, Denver Public Library began hosting programming relevant to the renaming process. Check the library’s events calendar for upcoming programming. You can also follow the Byers Branch Facebook page. 

July 2021
The Renaming Community Committee will open a name submission period seeking name recommendations from the community. Deadline is Sunday, July 23, 2021. Recommended names will be researched and reviewed by library staff. 

The Renaming Community Committee will meet to discuss the final names to move forward for community voting. 

Community voting will take place from September 7 through September 30. 

October 2021 
The Renaming Community Committee will present the final name recommendation to the Library Commission on Thursday, October 21, 2021. The Library commission will vote. 

November 2021
If the Library Commission approves the recommended name, a community celebration will take place in November. 

Learn More

Western History & Geneology Blog - William N. Byers: Contributing to a Massacre

Connect with us! 

To stay up to date on the progress, follow us on Facebook (Byers Branch Library). You can also email us at