Public Service exhibit at library celebrates 150 years of serving Colorado
Volunteer donates 7,041 hours to archive collection
Reference Librarian and Archivist Roger Dudley says that organizing the collection of Public Service Company Colorado photos and memorabilia, showing in a current exhibit at Denver Central Library, was a “labor of love.”
That might be an understatement. As a staff member in the library’s Western History and Genealogy department, Dudley volunteered 7,041 hours of his own time to review, archive, organize, file and catalog the contents of what he describes as “boxes and boxes and more boxes.”
To describe it in layman’s terms, 7,041 hours equals nearly an entire year of working, non-stop, 24/7.
Granted, those hours took several years to accumulate, but it’s an impressive contribution and demonstrates Dudley’s strong belief in archiving history.
Dudley, who worked at Public Service Company (now Xcel Energy) for 23 years in the visual communications department, was concerned that the company’s valuable history was in danger of being lost.
“Seeing how the photos were being stored at Public Service in whatever space was available with temperatures soaring in the summer and plunging in the winter made me aware of the need to have them in a controlled environment for both temperature and humidity,” says the devoted historian.
Dudley says he took it upon himself to “engineer that the company donate the items to the Denver Public Library Western History and Genealogy department.” Then, he really went to work.
“I came in early before my shift to spend time on the project,” he says.
Containers held some 250,000 images and thousands of items, ranging from cookbooks created by employees to commemorative medallions, corporate seals and baseball caps. This year is the perfect time to exhibit some of those items since the company celebrates 150 years of serving the people of Denver and Colorado.
Dudley has been hard at work on the project since 2004 when he was a library volunteer. He was hired as a paid staff member in 2006 but continued the volunteer project.
“Watching the number of boxes that remained to be processed shrink as the years went by gave me a sense of accomplishment,” Dudley says.
Today, the fruits of his labor and his thousands of hours have paid off. “Public Service Company of Colorado celebrates 150 Years of Serving the People of Denver and Colorado, 1869-2019,” is on display now through March 31, Central Library, Floor Five, Western History and Genealogy Department.