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Nederland Community Library: A Short History

For years the idea of a local library was talked about and explored by Nederland area residents who had to travel 20 miles to the nearest public library.  The community was growing with more young families and retirees moving in.


Finally, with the turn of the new century and with positive feedback from a community survey, a Town Board Resolution created the Nederland Community Library. In October 2000, volunteers formed a Library Board with officers and by-laws.  From the beginning, the Board formed strong partnerships with local schools, seniors, teens, the historical society and parents of preschoolers and home-schooled children.

During the next several months, the Board secured state of Colorado library funding ($9,442).  The Town provided seed money ($13,000) and local residents donated money, thousands of books, and used computers.


The Library’s first home was in the Community Center in one of the old elementary school classrooms.
In April 2001, the library opened in a 1,800-square-foot room in the town Community Center, directed by a half-time professional librarian.  With a first-year budget of only $36,000, volunteers continued to be the backbone of the library’s operation.  Public service hours were Wednesday through Friday from 3 pm to 8 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm.  Volunteers also created a nonprofit Nederland Community Library Foundation and raised funds through local events and book sales.


Noting a steadily increasing demand by area residents for the library’s services yet decreasing funding prospects, the Library Board decided to go to the voters with requests to:
  1. Create a Library District, and
  2. Fund it with a mill levy on property within a five-mile radius of the Nederland Town Hall.  In November 2002, voters passed both ballot Issues by substantial margins.


With income of $134,715 for 2003, the Board hired a full-time Library Director to manage and develop the library, enlarge the collection, continue services to patrons (inter-library loans, Internet access, online library catalog) and expand community programs.  Public service hours were increased to Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.  A trained corps of 15 volunteers continued to assist the Library Director.  Programs included a weekly pre-school story hour, home delivery of library materials for the disabled, and a children’s summer reading program.  The Library Foundation initiated a “Community Reads” program featuring the first mystery novel of a local author.

Then in March 2003 the Library suffered a setback when a huge snowstorm collapsed the main roof of the aged Community Center building.  The Library’s room was condemned for safety reasons.  The Library was moved into temporary quarters in two small rooms in another section of the Community Center and stayed open as much as it could without heat.


The library moved out of the Community Center and into the shopping center until it could build a new facility.

The Library Board decided it was time to investigate owning its own building. A Facility Committee was formed, and it surveyed residents, researched grants and methods of financing a building, and planned for a new facility.

The search for land began. Eventually, the Foundation purchased a lot on Third Street that was adjacent to an unused town street with grants from the District and donations from area residents. The Town of Nederland vacated the street to the neighboring landowners, and they donated that land to the District. The Foundation sold the lot to the District for a dollar, and combined with the vacated street, the District now owned an L-shaped lot bisected by a creek and bordered by Third Street and Highway 72.


In 2009, voters in the Library District passed a bond issue to build a new $1.2 million building designed by OZ Architects, a firm well-known for its work with libraries. The voters also approved a mill levy increase for operating expenses for a larger facility.


Construction began in the winter of 2010 with contractors Fransen-Pittman, also well known for their work on libraries. The Facility Committee continued to meet weekly during the construction phase until the new building opened a year later, in late January 2011. When the library opened, it was the greenest, most sustainable building in Boulder County.

The first year in the new building saw huge increases in visitation, computer use, library cards issued, and materials checked out. New staff was hired, and the library continued to rely on volunteers to help at the circulation desk. Usage of the Community Room exceeded expectations with kids’ and adult programs and community events. The building has become a showcase for the community, and visitation continues to increase.


In 2012, the Foundation purchased the lot next door with an eye toward the future.

Visitation and programming with the Foundation’s support continued to grow. During the Covid-19 pandemic, patrons used the Library’s online resources for programming and check-outs with curbside pickup. After the pandemic, the Library continued with its regular programming, including the Summer Reading Program and Storytimes. It has also hosted special programs like the ExoPlanet Exhibit from NASA and the ever-popular Pie Contest.  It also established the award-winning Songs from the Stacks with local musicians and talks with authors, among many other programs.


The Library board surveyed patrons and community residents about the best uses for the next-door lot. The surveys showed that the community was most interested in creating a reading garden and outdoor performance space. Plans were drawn up, and the project was sent out for bids. Sherpa Landscaping was selected, and construction began in October of 2023.
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