Summer Reading for Young People @ the Library

by Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District

It’s summertime, again. School is out. The grass is green and the trees are leaved. For many, this is a time for vacationing and relaxation. But at your library, it’s a busy time of the year.

Each and every summer, the library district presents programming, events and activities to promote and encourage summer reading among our youth. Our goal is simple. We aim to keep kids reading all summer long.

We don’t focus on assigned reading or reading as work. Instead, we emphasize reading for fun. In fact, I often say things like: “Read the comics.” “Read Manga.” “Read graphic novels.” “Read fun magazines.” “Read whatever is entertaining.” “Just read.”

Why is it important for young people to read for fun during the summer? The short answer is by exercising reading skills during the summer, it helps keep them sharp for the next academic year in school. The more you read, the better you read. The better you read, the more apt you are to succeed, both in school and later in life.
There is plenty of evidence to back this up. According to the Library Research Service, “within the library and education communities, ongoing and past research studies also address the impact of summer reading as a means to enhance the development and retention of children’s reading skills” (http://www.lrs.org/documents/fastfacts/263_summer_reading.pdf). Studies, dating back more than 30 years, consistently show that “more than any other institution, including the schools, the public library contributed to the intellectual growth of children during the summer” (Barbara Heynes, Summer learning and the effects of schooling, 1978, New York: Academic Press).
We are pleased at the Pueblo City-County Library District that our summer reading programs have been so successful. Summer reading at your library has grown in popularity each year since 2003. It is noteworthy that participation has increased from around 1,000 young people in 2004 to approximately 13,500 in 2009. This impressive growth in summer reading by our children and young adults can only mean good things for our community.

Participation in the summer reading program is both fun and free. In fact, kids and teens can earn great prizes simply for reading. For more information about joining our young people’s summer reading program, visit your nearest public library, call 562-5603 or go online to www.pueblolibrary.org.


Gaming @ Your Library

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
The Pueblo City-County Library District recently made video games available for check out. The addition of this new format of material to the library collection was included as an objective in the Library District’s 2010 annual plan (http://www.pueblolibrary.org/pld_docs/2010AnnBudgetPlan.pdf).
I am pleased that Sarah Wethern, teen services librarian, has worked quickly to
make this new service possible for our community. Games are now ready to check out for various players, including Wii,PS3 and Xbox 360. At this point, the games
are only in the collection at the Rawlings Library. A simple way to see a listing of
games you can check out is by searching in the library catalog by the subject “Video
Games.” For more information on this exciting new service, visit the Rawlings
Library or call 553-0207.
Why gaming? The library district’s adopted vision statement reads “Books
and Beyond.” Embodied in this brief statement is the concept that books are
important to libraries, but that our mission spans further. We believe it is important for the library to encourage literacy in a variety of information formats such as the Internet and personal computing, film and video, music and audio and, yes, video games.
The American Library Association provides guidance for our gaming efforts in a publication entitled An Online Toolkit for Building Gaming @ Your Library (http://
www.librarygamingtoolkit.org). It also is important to note the Pueblo City-County
Library District is not alone in venturing into gaming. In 2006, a professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies showed in a survey that “at least seven out of 10 public libraries support gaming.” (Scott Nicholson, The Role of Gaming in Libraries: Taking the Pulse, http://boardgameswithscott.com/pulse2007.pdf).
Gaming is important in other ways. Several studies have pointed to their
value in the modern world. These include papers prepared by the Pew Research
Center, the Kaiser Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. Importantly, a
study commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation found that “adults should
facilitate young people’s engagement with digital media” such as gaming because
youth are learning “social and technical skills they need to fully participate in
contemporary society” (http://www.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7BB0386CE3-8B29-
Where will we go from here and what’s next for your library? I am not certain of all
the answers to this question. But I do know this: It is vital for libraries to continue to evolve as the world of information formats change. By so doing, we will remain relevant and connected to our community.

We're Going Through the Roof!

By Jon Walker
Executive Director
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in April 2010)
2010 is beginning to look
like a once-in-a-lifetime
year at the Pueblo City-
County Library District. Use
of libraries is skyrocketing.
Pueblo County has a long and storied
tradition of supporting its public libraries.
This shows in so many ways. But never has
it been more apparent than now. In the last
two months, the number of checkouts of
library materials has shot up 38.5 percent
when compared with the same period the
year before. And, remember, last year was
a record-breaking year for library use.
What is true for checkouts, also is true
for other key library statistics. For example,
library visits are up nearly 24 percent so far
in 2010. Participation in library programs
and events is off the charts, too, with a 73
percent increase so far. Clearly, customers
like what they are finding at our libraries.
We are so happy to serve our community.
We also want to understand why use is
up so much. One reason for the growth,
undoubtedly, is the dour state of the
economy. When jobs are hard to come
by and wages go down, use of free library
services traditionally go up. Additionally,
librarians have been working strategically
to improve our collections of materials.
This involves two important steps. First,
weeding out library materials that people
no longer want; and, second, selecting
new materials people want to use. We
also will be spending a larger percentage
of our 2010 budget on new books and
materials than ever before. Another reason
for increased use involves our creative and
fun cultural and educational programs that
are widely popular and in demand. Library
staff has been conscientiously pursuing just
such events.
Other causes for the growth in library
popularity include the 2009 openings of
our new, larger Pueblo West Library and
the Library @ the Y.
Although the library district is busier
than ever, there are storm clouds on the
horizon. This has to do with funding. The
library district receives most if its income
from property and specific ownership
taxes. Indeed, 95 percent of library funding
in 2010 will come from these two sources.
As we all know, the economic reality now
is that tax revenues are falling. Locally,
this already is impacting schools, city and
county governments, and others. We also
are witnessing libraries in other parts of
Colorado taking hits—Aurora permanently
closed four of seven public libraries, and the
Denver Public Library reduced operating
hours at 14 of their libraries to reduce costs.
We are watching our funding sources
closely at PCCLD. The specific ownership
tax (which is a tax on automobiles) has
fallen by nearly 7 percent from 2008 to
2009. Property tax receipts are also likely
to decline as property values fall.
As with many things in life, there is both
good news and bad news for the library
district. Our libraries are brighter, busier,
and more robust than ever before, but
future funding concerns are sobering. As
always, we will continue to keep our public
posted on both these trends and others as
they relate to libraries.

The Virtual Library

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in March 2010)
When you ask most people to describe a library,
they probably first mention
books. But libraries have
not always been about
books. Indeed, they are
not currently all about books, and they are
not likely going to be all about books in the
The earliest known libraries did not
include any books. Libraries actually
predated books. The first libraries, some
4,000 years ago, consisted of rooms full of
clay tablets in cuneiform script and papyrus
scrolls with hieroglyphics.
Of course, books do play a key role in
today’s libraries. But modern libraries
are more than books. Libraries make
information available in a variety of
formats. Libraries also are community
and cultural centers with busy public
meeting rooms and educational programs
that are free and open to everyone. If we
think of libraries as more than books, it
is interesting to consider what the future
library may look like. This is especially so in
this era of rapid technological change that
is significantly impacting the manner in
which information is stored and retrieved.
Look at how our library provides access
to information today. Not only do we
furnish books, CDs, DVDs, microform,
public-access Internet computers,
and reference resources via online
subscription databases, we also are
checking out language-learning on USB
drives, downloadable audiobooks from
our website, and preloaded audiobooks
on MP3 players. These newer information
formats are definitely impacting how the
library is used. Fifteen years ago, few
libraries afforded public-access to the
Internet. Now, the Internet is a standard
part of library service. An astounding
301,428 Internet user sessions were logged
by the Pueblo City-County Library District
in 2009.
Reference books are another case in
point. In the last ten years, the number
of reference books in libraries has shrunk
dramatically. As recently as 2005, PCCLD
budgeted $99,900 for reference books.
In 2010, most reference materials will
be purchased as online subscription
databases, and we will spend $130,000 on
such resources, but very little on reference
The changing face of the library also is
apparent on the World Wide Web. There
is much discussion and excitement about
the implementation of Web 2.0 in libraries
as a means of reaching out to customers.
Librarians commonly refer to this as Library
2.0. PCCLD is planning in 2010 to build a
great website with Library 2.0 capabilities.
Our Library 2.0 services have already
begun. When you visit www.pueblolibrary.
org, you find an interactive online catalog,
access to personalized library accounts on
the Web, customer-placed holds, online
reviews of books and library materials,
subscription databases, and virtual
reference. Use of these services is rapidly
increasing. For example, subscription
database use increased from 99,025 uses
in 2005 to 432,529 in 2009. Online holds
filled increased more than 300% during the
same period.
People expect sophisticated interactive
online services. Providing these effectively
increases the library’s hours of operation
by allowing access 24/7 from the comfort
of a customer’s home, office or school.
Additional virtual services we hope to
implement in the coming year include
online customer registration, fee payment
and donations via the Internet, improved
online catalog searching, up-to-date
information about library services and
events, user generated content and online
collaboration, and online meeting room
booking. Other opportunities for Library
2.0 include wikis, blogs, RSS, podcasts and
social networking sites to deliver library
services. Already it is estimated that 47
percent of American public libraries are
providing RSS feeds, 39 percent blogs,
and as many as 23 percent have a social
networking presence.
So you see, libraries continue to change
with the times. This has been true from
antiquity through today. As the 21st century
library continues to evolve, it will be very
interesting to see how new information
formats and services are incorporated into

A Look Back at 2009

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in February 2010)
2009 was a phenomenal
year for the library. In fact,
it was the Pueblo City-
County Library District’s
best year, yet. How do I
know? There are a few different ways.
One way to know 2009 was great is the
numbers. In 2009, we checked out 1,441,387
books and other library materials to
members of the community. This is a new
all-time record for checkouts, representing
a healthy 12.7 percent increase compared
with the year before and a whopping 40
percent increase in the last five years. The
total number of library visitors in 2009 was
955,406. Again, this is a record number.
More than 75,000 people attended library
events and programs in 2009. Yet another
record. The numbers clearly show people
are engaged with the library and 2009 was
Last year was important for other
reasons. The beautiful new Pueblo West
Library opened in April and the community
responded warmly to this new library with
more people using this LEED-certified
“green” facility. We are pleased the Pueblo
West Library also is home to the newest
library service—the R.M. Watts Business
and Vocation Center operating under the
guidance of librarian Cindy Shimizu.
The new Library @ the Y opened in
November 2009. We hope this library,
located in the YMCA’s new community
recreational center, will become a popular
spot for people on the northwest side of
Another new service for 2009 is
downloadable e-audiobooks. Now, you can
download audiobooks to your computer,
MP3 player or IPod using this new service
made possible with a generous grant
from the Friends of the Library. More
information on e-audiobooks is available
online at http://www.pueblolibrary.org/
Finally, we debuted a mini-bookmobile
service in 2009 called Books a la Cart.
This books-on-wheels program brings the
library to many underserved areas of our
Of course, these new services are in
addition to many continuing programs. We
again hosted Booklovers Blacktie Ball, this
year featuring author Sandra Cisneros who
spoke to Puebloans on the 25th anniversary
of the publication of her classic book The
House on Mango Street. The Booklovers
Blacktie Ball is the highlight of a month’s
long series of events we call All Pueblo
Reads. 2009 was a record year for All Pueblo
Reads with nearly 18,000 participants.
Speaking of programs, PCCLD’s awardwinning
Summer Reading Club continues
to attract a large audience of young people.
In 2009, there were 13,472 participants
in the program. It’s our goal to keep kids
reading all summer long.
This only touches on some of the new
and continuing services and programs
available in 2009 from the library. The list
is long, and includes the InfoZone News
Museum, Western History and special
collections, Doris D. Kester/Southern
Colorado Community Foundation Nonprofit
Resource Center, Nuestra Biblioteca: The
Hispanic Resource Center and more.
We are pleased to bring these programs
and services to you at the Rawlings Library,
Barkman Library, Lamb Library, Pueblo
West Library and Library @ the Y, along
with satellite public libraries at Avondale
Elementary School, Beulah School, Cesar
Chavez Academy, Craver Middle School,
North Mesa Elementary School, Risley
Middle School, Rye Elementary School,
South Mesa Elementary School and
Vineland Elementary School.
2009 was an exceptional year for your
library. Our best year, yet.

2010: A Brand New Year

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in January 2010)
2009 has been a busy
year for the Pueblo City-
County Library District.
Record numbers of people
are visiting libraries. More
library materials are being checked out
than ever. Attendance at library programs
and events is at the highest level in the
history of the Library District.
The increase in use could be a sign of
the dire straits of the economy. Studies
show that when the economy is bad,
use of libraries increases. However, this
may be something more than just the
economy. The upswing in public-library
use has been going on for awhile. Indeed,
the Pueblo City-County Library District has
seen growing usage every year since 2005.
I predict that 2010 will be another
good year for the library. We have set for
ourselves several objectives for the new
year to help ensure that this is so. I would
like to describe two of these objectives in
this article.
First, we want to be smarter about how
library collections are built. This includes
working with more effective tools--such
as specialized software applications and
computer-generated reports--to help our
librarians better understand what books
and other library materials are no longer
useful in our collections. This will allow us
to systematically remove those materials
to make room for materials that people
want to use.
We also want to increase the amount of
money we spend to procure the best new
books and other library materials, and we
want to spend these dollars more wisely
by better analyzing and understanding
how the collection of materials is being
To this end, a group of librarians has
been assigned the task of working with
special software and reports to improve
our examination of collections, use of
materials, and to improve our collection
development processes. I would like to
identify these librarians and commend
them for taking on this task. They are
Isobel Drysdale who works to improve
our collections of books for youth; Abby
Koehler who oversees collections in nonbook
formats, such as audio and video; and
Rich Poll who supervises development of
collections for adults.
The second 2010 objective I want to
discuss in this article is upgrading the
library’s online presence. In today’s
world, people expect to be able to
conduct business online on the Internet.
This is true for the library just as it is other
We already provide the library catalog
on the World Wide Web. You can reserve
books online, renew checkouts online,
read archived periodical articles online,
among other services. Moving forward, we
want to build on these kinds of capabilities
to create a whole host of online library
services so that customers can access the
library 24 hours a day, seven days a week
from the comfort of their home, office or
school. We plan to hire a web manager in
2010 who will oversee the overhaul to the
library’s web presence.
With these and other initiatives in the
works for 2010, I truly believe the new year
promises to be very positive for the Pueblo
City-County Library District.

Library @ the Y

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in December 2009)
November marked the grand opening of another PCCLD library location. The new library is located on the recently constructed YMCA campus on the northwest side of the
City of Pueblo at 3200 Spaulding Avenue. The new Library @ the Y is not very large at
a little more than 1,000 square feet in size. Despite its small proportions, the Library @ the Y is an important initiative for PCCLD. First and foremost, it represents a significant expansion of public library service into the
growing north side of Pueblo. In addition, it serves as a true partnership with the YMCA of Pueblo.
The vision for the Library @ the Y has been longstanding. In the year 2000,
Chuck Bates, PCCLD’s Executive Director from 1981 until 2002, first agreed to locate
a library at the then-proposed YMCA. This arrangement was reaffirmed in 2003 by
Anthony Nuñez, who was president of the PCCLD Board of Trustees at the time.
Finally, the goal of locating a public library at the new YMCA was acknowledged in
2005 when the PCCLD Board of Trustees adopted a strategic plan entitled “Roadmap
to the Future.” (http://www.pueblolibrary.org/pld_about/SPI.pdf).
We are pleased the YMCA is providing the library space free-of-charge to PCCLD.
The YMCA has determined the library area cost $150,000 to build. With current
funding limitations, PCCLD would not have been able to provide this library without the YMCA’s generous commitment of space for no fee. As part of its commitment to the
Library @ the Y, PCCLD is providing staff, furnishings and shelving, and books and
other library materials.
One question I am regularly asked is “Do I need to be a member of the YMCA to use
this library?” The answer to this question is no. The Library @ the Y is a public
library, free and open to all members of the community. You do not need to belong to
the YMCA in order to use the Library @ the Y. The new Library @ the Y is open Monday
through Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. You can reach the Library @ the Y by telephone at
We invite everyone to visit the new Library @ the Y.

Downloadable Audio Books: Coming Soon

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in November 2009)
An objective for the library for 2009 is to “provide access to downloadable audio
books via the library’s website.” (p.2, http://www.pueblolibrary.org/pld_about/2009_
Approved_Budget.pdf). Library staff members have been working diligently to
make this new service a reality. We feel confident it will be ready for launch before
the end of 2009.
The new service will be a collaboration between the library district and an
organization called NetLibrary/Recorded Books. They will provide much of the
backend technology and content necessary for this service.
This new service will allow customers to download an audio book to their own
portable MP3-type player simply by going to the library’s website and clicking.
The downloadable audio books will be compatible with many different portable
music devices. A full list of devices that have been successfully tested is available
at http://www.oclc.org/audiobooks/techspecs/devices.htm.
We expect downloadable audio books will offer an exciting new way to expand
library services to our community. In time, we expect to provide an expanding
selection of 1,000’s of downloadable audio book titles in numerous subject categories
in both unabridged and abridged formats, including current best-sellers, book club
favorites, classics and award-winning literature. Another advantage of the
new service will include its self-service availability on your home computer 24
hours a day, 7 days a week.
Look for this new, exciting service coming soon from your library. More
information is available at http://www.oclc.org/audiobooks/about/default.htm.

About All Pueblo Reads

By Jon Walker
Executive Director
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in October 2009)
Welcome to All Pueblo Reads. The Pueblo City-County Library District is pleased to present this annual series of events to our community. This year, we are honored to offer two wonderful books: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and Sun, Stone,and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories. It is our hope and belief that each of these two acclaimed works will resonate with the residents of Pueblo County.
The House on Mango Street is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It is a beautifully
written series of vignettes representing a young girl’s experience and views of the
barrio in which she lives. It is a moving work touching readers deeply with its
unique poetic style and poignancy. Latina author Sandra Cisneros is the recipient
of numerous awards for her writing, and she is widely recognized as a key figure in
Chicana Literature. While Cisneros’ book focuses on the Hispanic experience in this country, our second book Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories includes some of the biggest names in literature from Mexico. What better way for people in our community to learn about our neighbor to the south than by reading contemporary Mexican stories?
This is the second year in which PCCLD is receiving significant support for All Pueblo Reads from the National Endowment for the Arts. Indeed, we won the NEA Big
Read $20,000 grant which affords us the opportunity to make this year’s series of
events special. Our featured program will be the appearance at the Rawlings
Library of Sandra Cisneros who will talk to Puebloans about her life experience
and writing. You will not want to miss this opportunity to meet this acclaimed author
in person.
Please read these great books and participate in the many other events made
possible by All Pueblo Reads.

Your Lucky Day

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in September 2009)
The library has started a new book service. It is called “Your Lucky Day.” It is
an effort to put more best-selling books more quickly into the
hands of more customers.
We have learned it is common for bestselling books at times to not be readily
available on library shelves for browsers. We buy lots of copies of best-selling books, but sometimes it is hard to provide enough to meet peak demand. For this reason, on occasion all best-selling books can be checked out or on reserve for others. Sometimes the queue of individuals in line waiting for a book title can be quite long.
We recently decided to provide even more copies of the hottest new books. However, these extra copies you are not able to reserve. When “Your Lucky Day” copy of a book is returned from checkout, it goes back onto library shelves. This means people browsing library shelves are much more likely to find the latest hot book.
You still are able to reserve best-selling books, and we still buy the same number
of best-selling books you can reserve. However, we also are providing extra
copies that simply go onto library shelves and cannot be held. On “Your Lucky Day,”
you will find best-sellers simply by browsing library shelves. “Your Lucky Day” books check out for two weeks, instead of the normal three-week period. By reducing the checkout period, the book gets back onto the shelf quickly for others to check out and read. Another difference is customers will be limited to two “Your Lucky Day” books checked out at one time. This means more people have a chance to read popular books.
“Your Lucky Day” books may be found in special display areas at our libraries. Look
for them at the Barkman, Lamb, Pueblo West and Rawlings libraries. A special
shamrock sticker on the outside jacket distinguishes a “Your Lucky Day” book.

A New Strategic Plan for the Library

By Jon Walker
Executive Director, Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in August 2009)
During the past five years, a lot has been happening at the Library District. The number of books and other materials checked out from the Pueblo City-County
Library has increased 31%. Attendance at Library programs and events has grown
by 227%. The Library’s summer reading program has been honored multiple
times as unexcelled in Colorado. A Ciruli Associates poll finds Pueblo County
residents believe the Library provides the best public service in our community.
We have remodeled the Barkman Library, replaced the Colorado City Satellite
Library, expanded the Pueblo West Library, and updated all of our computer
technology. We also are fortunate to have increased staff levels to help keep up with
the growing demands.
In the past few years, we have created a number of new services to be more
responsive to the community. We established Accessible Avenues to better
serve the disabled, All Pueblo Reads, AskColorado—24x7 online reference service, Books a la Cart, the Friends of the Library “Books Again” used book store, Books in the Park, the Doris D. Kester/Southern Colorado Community Foundation Nonprofit Resource Center, Homebound Book Delivery, Nuestra Biblioteca—Hispanic Resource Center, R.M. Watts Vocation & Business Center, and Teen Central.
We are pleased with our progress, and the community’s response. The guide for the Library District for the past five years has been the strategic plan Roadmap to
the Future (http://www.pueblolibrary.org/pld_about/SPI.pdf). Now, we are updating
the strategic plan to provide direction for the Library District’s future.
With a new plan, we will build on the success of the past and move ahead to a
responsive and productive future for library services for Pueblo County. In developing the new plan, we are seeking input from members of the community, comparing the Pueblo City-County Library District with peer libraries around Colorado, examining Pueblo County demographics for trends impacting library service, and forecasting future Library District financial resources. This data will be used in the new strategic plan to formulate recommendations for future library services.
Look forward to the new strategic plan entitled Moving Ahead. It will be unveiled
during the second half of 2009. If you have comments or would like to provide input to the new strategic plan, now is the time. To do so, please contact me directly.

Surveying Customers

By Jon Walker
Executive Director, Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in July 2009)
When it comes to learning about the library’s client base, one of the more
effective tools is a customer satisfaction survey. These surveys give customers a
chance to voice their concerns and sing the praises of the library.
In May, a customer satisfaction questionnaire was prepared and made
available to community members. We conducted the survey to gather data to
help guide us in future decisions about the library. Questionnaires were distributed at library locations and on the Internet. The response exceeded expectations. In
2005, we were pleased when a similar survey received a little more than 850 responses. Our survey this year was completed by around 1600 people.
The results of the survey allow us to make several observations. An overwhelming
number of respondents feel the library is important, easy to use, and they are
likely to recommend the library to others. Most respondents use the library on their
own without help, while those who seek assistance are likely to do so via computers
or by asking staff. In terms of library services, there is a high level of satisfaction with the library’s selection of books, magazines and newspapers, public-access computers, programs and events, seating and workspace, and meeting rooms. The
results also point to customers’ desiring improved selections of audio books and
DVDs, and a better library web site.
Knowing what the customer wants is a necessity. Getting this information is
required in order to fully anticipate where the library should focus its energy. Now
with the data in hand, the library is better positioned to make decisions about the

Have a Question? Ask the Library

By Jon Walker
Executive Director, Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in June 2009)
Library customers expect quick, accurate answers to their questions. There are a few different options for reaching the Pueblo City-County Library District to help answer your questions.
Of course, you can visit with staff in person or call by telephone any of the Library District’s 13 locations. For a complete list of library locations, phone numbers and hours of operation, visit http://www.pueblolibrary.org/pld_usingthelibrary/hours.asp.
You also can reach the Library District via the website at www.pueblolibrary.org. On the website, you will find an assortment of helpful information. The website provides access to the library catalog, too, where you can search for books and other library materials and even conveniently reserve materials or check your personal library account.
On the library’s website, you have access to a large number of premium online information and research resources (http://www.pueblolibrary.org/pld_search/er_main_rm.asp) and there is an online “Suggestion Box” where you can write comments, make suggestions or ask questions. For the latter, go to http://www.pueblolibrary.org/pld_about/suggestions.asp and type in your question or comment. We will email you a response.
Yet another useful way to contact librarians 24X7 is online chat using AskColorado. This is a live, interactive service on the Internet where you ask questions by connecting live with a librarian who will help you research facts and information. Access this service at http://www.askcolorado.org/. AskColorado is available in English and Spanish. Some people even refer to AskColorado as a “human powered search engine.”
With several ways to “talk” with library staff, asking the library your question has never been easier.

Customer Feedback

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in May 2009)
It always is important to listen carefully to your customers. In this respect,
libraries are no different than other service-oriented enterprises.
Along this line, we recently conducted a series of focus groups with a cross-section
of community members to talk about libraries. Our goal was to gather qualitative
information concerning library services to see how libraries are perceived and to
guide Pueblo City-County Library District in the future. During the course of several
meetings, a good deal of useful information emerged.
Among the important trends included general pleasure with library technology
improvements such as more and faster public access computers, and the online
catalog (www.pueblolibrary.org). People especially like the ability to go online to
the catalog from home, office or school to reserve library materials. We also learned
there is desire for the library catalog to support improved searching techniques.
We received very positive feedback about library public programs. The library clearly
is valued for its cultural and educational event offerings in our community.
Library facilities are seen as a major asset, including our collection of books
and other materials, modern and well-maintained buildings, public meeting
rooms, and quality spaces for teens and children. People recognize the advantages
of convenient availability of food and drink in the library. There is a perceived need to increase the size of the Barkman Library or provide another library on the eastside of the city of Pueblo.
Focus-group participants expressed appreciation for several of the newer
targeted services introduced in recent years, such as enhanced teen services,
Nuestra Biblioteca Hispanic Resource Center, Accessible Avenues: Paving the
Way for Customers with Special Needs, outreach programs such as Books in the
Park, and the Rawlings Library’s Special Collections and Genealogy services.
Generally speaking, library users would like to see these services not only continued
but expanded.
We learned useful information for possible future services, too. Customers
are interested in methods for improving the availability of highly popular and bestselling materials. They want audiobooks that can be downloaded to computers,
portable MP3 or iPod players. Customers want an updated and redesigned library
website and wireless computer access in all libraries. Finally, we heard some
enthusiasm for delivering books via a van to centers in poorer neighborhoods, a
possible library-sponsored adult literacy program, and improved library support for
business and vocational services.
These are only some of the highlights of what we learned from the community
focus groups. A full report is available to the public. Please contact me to learn more.
We believe it is not only important to listen to our customers, but to follow up
on what we hear. So, look for plans and activities from us in response to what we
learned, and for continued great things from your public library.

Libraries in Times of Economic Uncertainty

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in April 2009)
It is a troubling time our country is experiencing. The economy seems to
lose momentum almost daily.
One phenomenon of economic downturns is that this is precisely a time when library use typically goes up. Of course, this is nothing new for our library district. Our use has been increasing in recent years. In fact, the number of library checkouts has grown nearly 25 percent since 2005.
Plus, we know that as family budgets become tighter, the services of the free public library become even more appealing. New-book prices are averaging $25 or more. When disposable income is less, checking out a book is more appealing.
But the library is not only about books. We also offer DVDs and audiobooks, public
access computers, cultural events and comfortable places for people to come
together to meet, study, learn and exchange ideas. All this and more is free to the public at the library.
Across the country, libraries are making a difference. A 2003 study by OCLC showed
that U.S. libraries spend $14 billion annually. This compared with $12.3 billion in annual video sales and $13.6 billion in athletic footwear sales. At the same time, U.S. libraries had five times more cardholders than Amazon.com has customers, and
each day U.S. libraries checked out nearly four times more items than Amazon
handles. In fact, U.S. libraries checked out more items than FedX handles, and
five times more people visit U.S. libraries than attend all professional and college
football, basketball, baseball and hockey games combined. For more comparative
information on the use of libraries, see
We are confident that your return on investment for the public library is strong.
A study conducted in 2002 showed public libraries returned up to $10 for every $1
invested (Glen Holt and Donald Eliot, “Cost Benefit Analysis: A Summary of
Methodology,” The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances 2002, pp. 154-158).
Clearly, your public library is a value and as we navigate the current uncertain
economic times, rest assured we will continue to do all we can to serve our

Online Reference Sources

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in March 2009)
Who was it who once said one thing you can count on never changing is change? Change
comes to all things, including the library.
A number of years ago (in the “olden days”), people relied on the library for
reference books such as encyclopedias, business directories, medical dictionaries, bound periodical volumes and more. In recent years, the library has shifted somewhat. Many of these resources are offered now online, rather than in traditional printed and bound volumes.
Customers are discovering these wonderful reference sources available via the library’s website at www.pueblolibrary.org. In fact, more than a few people are using these online library reference tools. Since 2005, the views of online reference pages has increased 59.5% from 99,205 in 2005 to 157,931 in
The number of online reference sources available from the library’s website is impressive. Interestingly, these value-added sources are not freely available on the Internet. They cost a fee to use, unless you are a library card holder. For library-card holders, these sources are free to use on the Internet. The library pays a subscription fee that covers the use for any library-card holder.
There are a myriad of online reference tools available. In fact at last count,
there were 74 online services available from the library’s website. They include
reference sources on everything from full-text magazine archives to automotive
repair to “Do It Yourself,” lay health, business directories, language learning,
readers’ advisory tools and so on.
To see a complete list of all the available resources, simply go to www.pueblolibrary.org, rollover the “Search” button, then click on “Search Online
Resources.” When you reach this page, you can either see an alphabetical list of
all the library’s reference databases or look at the databases by subject.
It’s a modern and online world we live in, and the library clearly is part of this
brave new world.

2008 in Review

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in February 2009)
As we move into 2009, it can be instructive to review the year just ended to see what was accomplished. 2008 was a busy year at the library.
2008 started briskly with construction commencing on a fresh new and much larger library in Pueblo West. This new building should open for business in the first quarter of 2009. At 28,000 square feet in size and featuring the latest in library
design, new furniture and equipment, multiple public meeting rooms, and a larger collection of books and other library materials, this facility should serve the
community well for many years to come. It also is gratifying to point out that the
new Pueblo West Library will be LEEDcertified by the U.S. Building Council a as “green” building. We are grateful for our partners on this project which include
H.W. Houston Construction Company and Humphries Poli Architects.
We strive to provide outstanding service to our community at all library locations.
Our outstanding record of service in 2008 was validated by ever increasing use of
libraries. The 888,200 visitors to Pueblo City-County Libraries in 2008 was a 2.7%
increase over the year before. We also seek to provide a large and varied selection
of books and other library materials from which our customers may choose. It is
rewarding that our efforts are paying off as in 2008 we circulated 1,278,881 items.
This is the most check outs ever in the history of the Library District.
We believe part of the reason for our growing success is our efforts to reach
out more to targeted audiences. Several initiatives come to mind, including the
Books in the Parks summer program at Mitchell Park on Pueblo’s east side and
Minnequa Park in Bessemer, Teen Central areas at the Barkman, Lamb, Pueblo West
and Rawlings Libraries; and the Nuestra Biblioteca—Hispanic Resource Center,
InfoZone Museum, Nonprofit Resource Center, and Genealogy and Western
History services at the Rawlings Library. It is important to note that in 2008 we received a special grant to fund special technology to improve access to library resources for customers with special needs. This grant resulted in a successful project at the Rawlings Library called Accessible Avenues: Paving the Way for Customers with Special Needs. In addition in 2008 the Special Collections department at the Rawlings Library received a generous gift from The Pueblo Chieftain of more than 1,000 bound newspaper volumes dating from 1869. Now, this unique historic
resource serves as a significant research tool for the entire community.
The Pueblo City-County Library District also is as a center of cultural programming
and lifelong learning for our community. In this respect, it is important to note that 70,745 people attended library-sponsored events in 2008. This is the largest number of people ever. We are proud of all of our programming efforts, such as our
signature 2008 All Pueblo Reads series which attracted 7,165 attendees and the
awarding-winning library summer reading program which enrolled nearly 10,000
young people in reading and learning activities last summer.
The Library District also serves an important role as a place where public
access computing and Internet services are available. In 2008, more than 20,000
people logged onto library computers in a typical month. To better support this
service, the library adopted a plan to invest more than $600,000 over two years
to improve library computing technology. 2008 brought new public computers to the
Barkman, Lamb and Rawlings Libraries plus much faster Internet speeds for these
new computers. More new computers and other technology improvements are
planned for the current year.
With all these indications of a strong
foundation established in 2008 for responsive service to our community,
it is no wonder we are so much looking forward to 2009 at the Pueblo City-County
Library District.

What's New for 2009

By Jon Walker
Executive Director,
Pueblo City-County Library District
(First published in January 2009)
My, how time flies! It is now 2009, and the Pueblo City-County Library District has several new initiatives in store to better serve you. All these are set forth in the district’s 2009 Annual Plan and Budget. This document is posted online at www.pueblolibrary.org. Here is a selection of some of the new things planned for 2009:
• A library is only as a good as the collection of books and other materials it offers the public. In 2009, access to a broader selection of titles will be improved
by implementing a more effective and efficient way to buy books.
• When there is a book we do not have, we occasionally borrow it for our customers from another library outside Pueblo County and vice versa. We call this Inter-Library Loan, and in order to help make certain our service is top-notch, PCCLD’s current holdings will be updated in the national union catalog used by libraries all over the world as a resource to know where to borrow from and lend materials to one another.
• It is not uncommon for a new, bestselling-book to frequently be tied up on hold. Even though PCCLD generously buys multiple copies of most bestsellers, you sometimes wait months for your turn. In order to improve your chances of getting that book when you’re browsing library shelves, we will start a new program in 2009 whereby some copies of a hot title will be reservable, and others will go onto the shelves when returned from checkout. This will help increase availability to customers browsing shelves. In addition, checkout periods for popular new books will be reduced so more customers have access.
• Great libraries have great buildings that are comfortable and conducive to reading and study. The library district will open two new buildings in 2009. Early in the year, the newly expanded Pueblo West Library opens. At 28,000 square feet, this library will be more than five times larger than the current library. Later in the
year, a small public library will open at the new YMCA campus.
• The library district not only provides access to books, but to other formats
including DVD movies and audiobooks on CD. In 2009, we plan to begin offering a great new service with downloadable audiobooks. These are audiobooks you can download to your personal computer day or night from the PCCLD web site. You will be able to play these downloadable audiobooks on your computer or a portable MP3 player. All you will need is a library card!
• More and more PCCLD libraries are becoming community cultural centers. In 2009, we want to keep growing our award-winning summer reading program and offer our 5th Annual All Pueblo Reads series. In addition, we have received a generous grant from the Rawlings Foundation and plan to use it to develop and commence updating the InfoZone Museum at the Rawlings Library.
• 2009 also will see the library district reaching out to the community in novel
ways. The new Books a la Cart service will be a library on wheels delivering library
materials to underserved neighborhoods in a specially-equipped PCCLD van.
• We will establish the new R.M. Watts Vocation & Business Center. This service
will be based at the Pueblo West Library and will provide specialized library and
information services plus staff to assist businesses and those seeking to improve
their economic standing.
• More than 20,000 people log-on to PCCLD public-access computers in a typical month. One new initiative customers will notice in 2009 is the replacement of all computers, meaning our customers will enjoy the most current computing technologies.
As you can tell, 2009 will be another great year at the Pueblo City-County Library District as we strive to make our libraries as responsive as possible to our


The library is a learning institution.  First and foremost, the Pueblo City-County Library District (PCCLD) exists to ensure members of our...