Inside the Factory of a Public Library: How Do They Keep it Running?


Photo Credits: Emilya Barwick

Within the aisles of the Columbine Public Library, it is filled with new book editions, as well as old classics.

The first public library was opened in 1833 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Since then, public libraries are struggling to keep the general community consistently using the library. Between the growth in use of technology, and the falling interest in books for teenagers, the library is taking further measures to make sure they stay open. 

Brian Mosbey is the office manager at the Columbine Library in Littleton, Colorado. While completing his Masters in Library Science, he has faced many questions revolving around the growing problem with keeping the public coming to the library. According to Moseby, the library has become less based on getting information to people, and more on creating a gathering place. “In order to get people continually coming into the library we really strive to listen to the public and their needs, whether it’s verbal comments or our own observation as to what is happening,” Mosbey said. 

More than two years ago, Columbine Library went through a complete renovation, and the community meetings that were held were to see what the community wanted from the library, and programs were created based on the most popular trends. Through the Epic STEM competition, “Every Child Ready to Read” program through storytimes, and the “Romance in the Rockies” featuring author Robyn Carr, “We hope these events are big enough that they can catch people’s attention and make them want to seek us out even more,” Mosbey said.

Photo Credits: Emilya Barwick
Columbine Library holds a Teen Area for ages 13-18 for a studying location and young adult novels targeted for teens.

At the Bemis Public Library, they are also offering more programs for all audiences. Between monthly music concerts, author talks, teen laser tag and gaming, children story times, the activities are countless. 

In 2019 Bemis Public Library offered 187 adult programs with 6,529 attendees, 495 children’s programs with 12,801 participants, and 73 teen programs with 1,985 in attendance. According to Nancy Trimm, a connected staff member at Bemis Library, “There are so many events happening at the public library that we truly believe there is something for everyone here.”  

Even with all the programs most public libraries provide, it is still a struggle to acquire teen presence in the library. According to Common Sense Media, the studies show that nearly half of 17 year-olds say that they only read for pleasure no more than one to two times a year. 

Photo Credits: Emilya Barwick
Kylie Williams, an honors student at D’Evelyn High School.

Kylie Williams, a sophomore at D’Evelyn High School as well as a member of the Teens Advisory Board at Columbine Public Library, was always a participant in the library’s activities. “My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was younger, so the library was a place my mom could take my sisters and that was safe, free, and kid friendly,” Williams said. 

To Williams, the library provides many outlets for teens that are not used, and very well should be. Whether to study as a high school student or volunteer for the Summer Reading Program, almost all Jeffco Public Libraries provide for all ages; teens have many outlets to become regular patrons.  As Williams said, “Come in on a lazy Sunday, pick up a book off the shelf, and simply reading for a couple hours is attention that public libraries are starved of from today’s youth.”