I’m Liz vonTauffkirchen and I have the great honor and privilege of serving as the newest director of the newest library district in Colorado, Southwest La Plata Library District. Many folks seem confused about what we are and where we are, so let me do my best to answer those questions here.
Most libraries fall into one of four categories: public, school, academic or special libraries. Generally, people understand the first two categories easily: public libraries and school libraries. Academic libraries are associated with (and often on the campuses of) colleges and universities. Special libraries might be in a hospital, or a law library, or could even be corporate libraries.
Southwest La Plata Library District is special because our two libraries are hybrid libraries. Hybrid libraries fall into more than one library category. In our case, we are a public library and a school library. This designation comes with all sorts of benefits and challenges.
Some of the benefits of being a hybrid library are related to being physically inside two Durango School District 9-R elementary schools (Sunnyside and Fort Lewis Mesa). We are right onsite within the building, so serving the teachers, faculty and students in the two schools is very accessible and easy to do. We are pleased and grateful to serve every class (K-5) in both schools for library visits once per week. This level of service to the schools would be unrealistic and probably impossible to achieve for a library in a separate facility from the schools.
Unfortunately, some of the disadvantages of being a public/school hybrid library are also because of being inside the 9-R buildings. One big disadvantage is that we are unable to welcome guests from the community during the school day, because of both COVID-19 restrictions and security concerns related to student safety. We are working closely with 9-R to find solutions that can facilitate more access for the public to our libraries. In the meantime, the inside of our libraries is open to the public at both locations from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and for phone reference and curbside service from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. We can make copies for you (taxes, anyone?); we can do Reader’s Advisory (help you find reading selections tailored to your personal taste); we can answer reference questions; we’re happy to help with technology issues, such as trouble with a phone or tablet; and, at Fort Lewis Mesa, we even have a Notary Public. We can do more than this handful of things, but it’s a good representation of the sorts of things we can do to serve the public.
How do you know if Southwest La Plata Library District is your public library, you might ask? If you have school-aged children in kindergarten through fifth grade and your children go to Sunnyside or Fort Lewis Mesa elementary schools, we are your public library. If you don’t have kids that age, it gets a little trickier. One can see the boundaries of the Southwest La Plata Library district on our website described in words here and as a map here. If you aren’t sure if we’re your library or not, please call or come in and let us help you. If we are your library, please call or come in so we can help you. We are very happy to help and would love to meet everyone who lives in our district to learn how we can best serve you!
Liz vonTauffkirchen is director of the Southwest La Plata Library District.