Wheat Ridge Library, the smallest of Jefferson County Public Library’s 10 locations at just over 6,000 square feet, is tucked away in a neighborhood just off Sheridan Boulevard at the cross of Chase Street and 32nd Avenue. Cream-colored stone, red lettering and a redbrick, cross-gabled roof welcome visitors to the building, flanked by colorful trees and a single wooden garden bench. It’s cozy, intimate, tranquil and welcoming.
“One of the reasons people come [to Wheat Ridge] is the feel,” says Nick Taylor, the public services manager of Wheat Ridge. “[The Library] has this neighborhood, old-school library feel. People love seeing the familiar faces.”
Nick, along with the rest of the staff, are all passionate and proud about supporting the Wheat Ridge community. In February 2019, the staff demonstrated their passion when they underwent an in-house makeover of the interior library space. The updates included new carpeting; lower, more easily accessible shelves; brighter paint; and ergonomically-designed tables and chairs to create more of a coffee-house setting.
“We saw a need for change, and little updates like these make the place more pleasant all around,” Nick says. “It was almost a feng-shui of the library. People really like the new openness, roominess and being able to see more community artwork along the walls.”
Visiting Wheat Ridge Library for more than 14 years, Kim Nilson is one of this small community’s most loyal patrons. More than a decade ago, staff librarians helped her find the perfect quote for her wedding invitations, and now, Kim visits the library every week with her kids and has even volunteered her time presenting a book-folding workshop for other patrons to enjoy.
“It’s really hard to find community anymore, even in neighborhoods. It’s not like when I was a kid,” Kim says. “Wheat Ridge [Library] is really unique. It feels so safe and welcoming.”
To Kim, what makes this Library community so special is the staff.
“Everyone here has always been so nice,” Kim explains. “It feels like family when you go in. I know the librarians on a first-name basis. They know my kids and what we like to read. They’re always in a good mood. I feel connected here.”
Kim also loves the location itself, saying, “Though it’s smaller, it doesn’t feel limited. It just makes [the experience] more intimate.”
Despite this, the recent makeover to the Library was a welcome change to Kim and her family.
“I like that the shelves are lower! You seem to get more light and see better. I never realized before that there was such wonderful art on the walls,” she says with a laugh. The increased accessibility of the Library, with wider shelves and an updated handicap-access door, also proved important to Kim and her family.
“My daughter had double-knee surgery this summer. Before, [the Library] felt really tight and small, but now she’s able to get back in [the shelves] and get what she wanted. I never knew this would be something I would be tuned in to, but it’s important,” Kim says.
Check out the newly enhanced Wheat Ridge Library for yourself at 5475 W. 32nd Avenue in Wheat Ridge, CO. We hope you, like Kim, will leave with a sense of “camaraderie, belonging and comfort [that] you just can’t get anywhere else.”
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