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Newest library district gets website

Southwest La Plata Library District formed in November
Nycole Eoff, left, a substitute librarian, and Rebecca Benally, branch library manager at Sunnyside Elementary School, show a map of the proposed Southwest La Plata Library District in 2019 at the school.

Colorado’s youngest library district has entered the digital age with a new website.

The Southwest La Plata Library District announced its new website, developed with the help of COLibraries and the State Library, at the start of May.

One of the driving motivational forces behind creating the website was the hope of helping to build a stronger sense of community, said Peter Miesler, Southwest La Plata Library District trustee. Miesler helped coordinate the creation of the website.

“The community now owns the library, and we get a bit more interaction with the community by having a website they can go to,” Miesler said. “We’re hoping for more community cohesion.”

The library district, which includes Sunnyside Library and Fort Lewis Mesa Library, was officially formed on Nov. 5, after a tight vote on the district and a 1.5 mill property tax alongside it. The yes vote won the race 52.1% to 47.9%, or 882 yes votes to 811 no votes.

The district was created because La Plata County – which had formerly provided funding for the two rural libraries – had decided to cut funding after declining revenues from oil and gas property taxes. Durango School District 9-R had helped to keep the libraries open with grant funding but that was expected to run out in June.

Miesler said the school district has continued to support the libraries throughout the process and has maintained a partnership.

A group of residents formed to put the question of the formation of a new library district to voters. The group hoped to preserve the services the two libraries provided the communities, including access to books, after-school programs, technology, supplemental learning opportunities, internet service and community meeting space.

“We are striving for increased community awareness and participation,” Miesler said.

While the libraries currently aren’t open because of the coronavirus pandemic, Miesler said they will open Monday for curbside exchange, where people can order books ahead of time to be placed in a box on the sidewalk and then return books to a separate box to be disinfected.

“With COVID, that’s added a lot more of a push for people to connect on the internet, and the website ties into that,” he said.

Currently, the Southwest La Plata Library District has community resources and updates about the 2020 census, COVID-19 pandemic and each of the libraries at swlplibrarydistrict.org.

lweber@durangoherald.com

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