Message from City Librarian: Letter to the Editor: We are Relevant

The Denver Post recently wrote an article about how libraries need to reinvent themselves in the digital age titled: "Digital update for the public library" (12/7/11).

The article states “Libraries will look very different in the digital age, and they must," and also questions how DPL will remain relevant. We have a lot of data and many success stories to demonstrate our relevance. In the coming months as we engage the community to talk about our future and sustainable funding, these stories will be told.

In the meantime, here is the letter to the editor I submitted in response to the article (note, I was limited to about 150 words).

"Denver Public Library has been evolving to meet the needs of the community since its inception in 1889. Simply stated, our mission is to connect people with information, ideas and experiences to provide enjoyment, enrich lives, and strengthen our community.

In this digital age, the role of Denver Public Library in the community has changed. We have been on the forefront of libraries offering eBooks, but that’s not the only way our service has shifted. With the rise in unemployment, we have increased our resources for job seekers – from technology classes, to more public computers. Our Fresh City Life cultural programming provides free ways to engage the community in creative lifelong learning opportunities.

2012 will prove to be a pivotal year for us with the possibility of a ballot initiative addressing library funding. Community engagement will be crucial and we are planning to have several opportunities for public input throughout the year to discuss the future of DPL."


What a peculiar article for the Denver Post to publish! In this technologically advanced society I would expect they just jumped online and did a little research prior to publication. There must have been too much information to adequately research the topic prior to publication. The commentator lacks insightfulness and fact; libraries have been technologically advanced since the good old days of Alexandria. Libraries give people voice, and the knowledge necessary to express that voice. As always, people must be able to validate information. This is a perfect example of why it is necessary to support any library. What a simplistic viewpoint the Denver Post maintains, and their research was well below par. Next time I hope the author will ask a librarian for assistance!
I thought the same thing when I read that editorial! The author could have just looked at this web site for info on the mission, history, events, classes and services that the library offers. Services and classes that seem very relevant to the digital age I might add. I think regular library users must have scratched their heads when they read that one.
I love our public libraries, and am saddened to hear about anyone questioning their relevance. Items my family currently has checked-out: Movies, books, books on CD, and music CDs. We also use the on-line resources, and my son's school class recently visited the Western History collection at the downtown location. From the time of Ben Franklin to the present, public libraries are part of our American culture - a great equalizer of knowledge and information - ensuring everyone has access to great literature and enriching arts and culture. An educated, literate population does not only add to our quality of life, it helps ensure our economic growth and competitiveness. Even though Americans are not always guaranteed the right to know, we have a need to know to make informed decisions. The public library is vital building block of our society.
Technology and directors all come and go but a constant has been Denver Public Library's excellent customer service. As a frequent user of the Library, I like how staff continue to learn and grow to respond to the changing needs of Denver and beyond.
Questioning the relevance of the library is preposterous. Perhaps the person should actually go to a library and see what's happening.

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