Note: This is part of a multi-part series on how JCPL adds value to the community.
Libraries were built on a foundational principal: that everyone deserves equal access to information and opportunity, without regard for differences in age, ethnicity, income level, education level, physical or mental capacity, political affiliation, or any other demographic.
At JCPL, our core values include serving our patrons with care and creating a welcoming environment for all. We recently launched a system-wide diversity campaign for all employees, to ensure that we understand and value diversity, continue to enhance our cultural competencies and provide relevant resources to our diverse populations.
We're doing this because Jefferson County is a culturally rich community, with representatives from every segment of the population. Here are some recent stats*:
- A third of Jeffco Schools' students are characterized as minorities: 25 percent are Hispanic; three percent are Asian Pacific; and the remaining five percent represent a number of other ethnic backgrounds.
- Ten percent of our population speaks a language other than English at home.
- Nearly 20 percent of our residents are 60 years or older, and that population is expected to double in the next 20 years.
- Nearly 10 percent of Jeffco residents are living with a disability -- and that increases to 31 percent for those aged 65 or older.
- Nearly eight percent of residents in the civilian labor force are unemployed.
- A third of Jeffco Schools' students qualify for free and reduced lunch. This indicates that they are living near or below federal poverty guidelines.
- Nearly 900 residents are homeless, or living on the brink of homelessness.
The numbers tell one story. Our experience tells another, far more interesting one.
If you walk into our libraries, you'll see that story come to life, with all of the color and gravitas that it entails. You'll see every demographic represented, and staff who are dedicated to serving them. In addition, you'll find programs and resources that offer exciting insights into the amazing and vibrant character of our community.
Here's an example:
This photo is of one of the members of Grupo Tlaloc, a danza Azteca group, who performed at four of our libraries during Hispanic Heritage Month. Grupo Tlaloc is the first and oldest group of its kind in the Denver area, promoting 35 years of educating, performing, and understanding of the native culture of Mexico and the Native American way of life to our community.
They were awesome! And they are just one example of the panoply of resources we have available. You should come check them out.
At JCPL, we value and embrace diversity because it's the right thing to do. And in doing so, we make our own lives incredibly richer.
* Sources: Jeffco Schools website, American Community Survey 2013, Jefferson County Aging Well Project, Point in Time Survey 2013