The Aspen Institute and Colorado State Library Issue New Report with Strategies for Using Colorado’s Public Libraries to Build More Resilient Communities

January 30, 2018

Call for increased participation of public libraries in statewide initiatives on learning and career readiness, information sharing and collaboration

For more information, contact:
CDE Communications Division

Amy Garmer
The Aspen Institute
O: 202-736-5854, M: 301-704-1333,

DENVER, CO, January 30, 2018 – Today, the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries and the Colorado State Library released a report on how communities can more effectively use libraries to improve and enhance the lives of their residents.

The report unveils a set of opportunities and recommendations for building library partnerships statewide that include participation in new youth initiatives, workforce readiness, and libraries serving as civic hubs.

Libraries: Building Community Resilience in Colorado is the report of the Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries, a partnership between the Aspen Institute and the Colorado State Library that brought together a group of community and library leaders from throughout Colorado to explore and champion new thinking on the role of public libraries in Colorado.

The dialogue included a conversation with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and the participation of Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. The report adds to the considerable body of work conducted by state agencies and local partners to create a roadmap to resilience for Colorado communities.

“In 2016, Gov. Hickenlooper’s office did an in-depth project examining what it takes to create more resilient communities, whether urban, suburban, or rural. The Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue built on this effort and allowed us to explore opportunities for working more closely and more intentionally to leverage Colorado’s public libraries to build smarter healthier communities,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes, whose mother was a career librarian.

“The Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue examined the building blocks of resilient communities and their relationship to one another and to public libraries, drawing from initiatives developed by the Colorado Resiliency Working Group. The Colorado Dialogue provides an excellent model for other states to unlock the potential of their public libraries,” said Amy K. Garmer, director of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries and the author of the new report.

The report highlights key insights from the conversation with Gov. Hickenlooper, which included the important role that public libraries can play in fostering greater collegiality and productive civic engagement, as well as ways to increase the involvement of public libraries in new statewide initiatives for learning, career readiness, and information sharing. The report also calls for a frank discussion to address inequities in library resources across the state and the need for Colorado libraries to increase their participation on statewide commissions and task forces.

“The Colorado Dialogue identified how libraries play a supportive role in helping partner with the business, creative sectors, government, and education to strengthen communities, foster literacy, and support career changes for all. The dialogue demonstrated that it is incumbent on library leaders to play an active role in community growth actions,” said Eugene Hainer, Assistant Commissioner at the Colorado State Library.

With an emphasis on local empowerment and solutions, the report identifies 10 opportunities for libraries and their communities to work more effectively together. These are:

  1. Provide an array of learning resources and support for people to change career paths.
  2. Look at education and lifelong learning as one interrelated ecosystem.
  3. Bring a variety of community resources, including health and human services, into libraries to support students and their families and to close achievement and other gaps.
  4. Emphasize collective impact strategies in partnership with public and private sectors.
  5. Connect libraries with the creative community to build on the positive impact of Colorado’s creative community on local economies and community development.
  6. Build leadership networks with the private sector.
  7. Create a new office in the state to facilitate public-private/public-public partnerships (“P3 czar”).
  8. Establish libraries as a center for conversation and community connections.
  9. Attract, inspire and enable diverse talent in the library and the community.
  10. Change the culture and policies that inhibit innovation.

The Colorado State Library has started to advance and implement several of the recommendations in Libraries: Building Community Resilience in Colorado.

About the Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries. The Colorado State Library was chosen by the Aspen Institute as one of four partners in a series of library dialogues nationwide in 2016-2017. Twenty-four library leaders, state and local policymakers, business and civic partners came together on May 25, 2017, at the History Colorado Center in Denver to explore new thinking and practical solutions for using the infrastructure and expertise of public libraries to build more resilient communities in Colorado. The following individuals participated in the Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue:

Katy Anthes, Colorado Commissioner of Education
Clarke Becker, Director, Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium, Colorado Department of Labor & Employment
Dan Cordova, Librarian, Colorado Supreme Court
Katherine Correll, Executive Director, Downtown Colorado, Inc.
Charlie Firestone, Executive Director, Communications and Society Program, Aspen Institute
Laura Frank, President and General Manager, News, Rocky Mountain PBS
Joe Garcia, President, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Amy Garmer, Director, Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries, Aspen Institute
Dan Gibbs, Commissioner, Summit Board of County Commissioners
Anthony E. Graves, Director of Regional Affairs, City and County of Denver
David Greenberg, Vice Chancellor, Institutional Partnerships, University of Denver
Eugene Hainer, Assistant Commissioner, Colorado Department of Education
Irv Halter, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Local Affairs
Jesse Henning, Executive Director, Garfield County Libraries
John Hickenlooper, Governor, State of Colorado
Dustin Hodge, Principal, Hodge Media Group
Margaret Hunt, Director, Colorado Creative Industries
Michelle Jeske, City Librarian, Denver Public Library
Sharon Morris, Director, Library Development, Colorado State Library
Claudine Perrault, Director, Estes Valley Library
Randy Pye, Managing Principal, FulcrumOne, and former Mayor, City of Centennial
Connie Rule, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Colorado
Joseph Sanchez, Library Director, Mesa County Libraries
Pam Sandlian-Smith, Director, Anythink Libraries
Chip Taylor, Executive Director, Colorado Counties, Inc.
Ann Terry, Executive Director, Special District Association of Colorado

To read the complete report, go to:

To learn more about the Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries, go to: .

The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries is a multi-stakeholder forum to explore and champion new thinking on US public libraries, with the goal of fostering the transformation of public libraries for a more diverse, mobile and connected society. The Dialogue is managed by the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, which focuses on projects and initiatives that address the societal impact of communications and information technologies and provides a multidisciplinary venue for considered judgment on communications policy issues. Learn more about the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries at

The Colorado State Library provides leadership and expertise in developing library-related policies, activities, and assistance for school, public, academic, and special libraries. A primary goal of our efforts is to improve the ability of libraries to provide quality services to all Coloradans. Learn more at the State Library homepage. The Colorado State Library is an office within the Colorado Department of Education.

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