Estes Grows Readers: the Month of the Young Child

by Melanie Kozlowski, Early Literacy Librarian

Did you know that one thousand trillion synapses are formed in a baby’s brain during the first 8 months of life? Synapses are pathways between nerve cells. When we read aloud to a young child—including babies—we are giving them the brain power of a lifetime.

With so much at stake during those early years of life, it’s a great time to ask, “What can each of us in the Estes Valley do to ensure kids have regular opportunities of being read aloud to?”

April is the Month of the Young Child. We’ll be sharing ideas in the weeks ahead—and welcoming your ideas too. This week, let’s start with the basics:

Parents — you got this! Simple activities like reading aloud and visiting your library will prepare your child for school and life.

Reading aloud to your child for 15 minutes a day feeds the brain with lifetime benefits. And regular visits to the library and choosing books to take home helps develop a love of books and reading. Help spread the message of the importance of early literacy. 

In the Estes Valley, we want our kids to meet their highest potential.

However, in recent years, only 39% of Estes Valley children arrived at school sustaining or exceeding benchmarks of school readiness. Yet, with simple activities, that number can be dialed up so that ALL our kids arrive at school ready to learn. Let’s grow readers!

A child who engages in early literacy activities at home is a strong candidate for later success in learning to read. Check out our “Estes Grows Readers” page for a great list of resources and information to get started.

A little background: the Month of the Young Child grew out of what was originally a week-long April initiative by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This effort has been adapted into many special initiatives across our state and county.

As far back as 1971, NAEYC recognized “the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life”. They add, “It’s a time to plan how we—as citizens of a community, of a state, and of a nation—will better meet the needs of all young children and their families.”

In the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing some new ideas on how you can get involved to help Estes grow readers. We’ll celebrate the local partners who are part of this great effort. And together, we’ll dream big, as we make it our goal that every young child is Kindergarten-ready upon their arrival for their first day of school.

Together, let’s grow the next generation of readers—and give them the fullest opportunities for success they deserve.

More connected than ever: meet our school partners

by Jamie Murphy, Technical Services Librarian

Jamie Murphy

Springtime in the Estes Valley is brilliant. As rivers thaw and days grow longer, what piques your curiosity? How will you conquer your next goal, inspire joy for yourself and those around you? As we look ahead toward connection and regrowth — a new normal — the Estes Valley Library is grateful for the opportunity to serve you in new ways.

Speaking of connectedness: five local libraries have joined together to create the new Village Catalog. The result: you can now search the combined One Million Items of our public library and all 4 school libraries: Elementary, Middle, High School, and Eagle Rock School. Each location is ready and eager to share–connected with courier delivery. It’s a win-win for local residents AND local students.

There’s never been a better time to prepare for college or a new career, research that mountain sport you’ve been dreaming about, or discover new authors, new movies, new ideas. It wouldn’t have happened without our enthusiastic local partners

To find out what it means for local students, we spoke with Anne Dewey, Instructional Technology Coordinator at Estes Park School District R3:

Tell us about the school libraries and the role they serve.

The school district has libraries in each of the three schools, serving our 1000+ students and staff. In our district, libraries are more relevant than ever, providing not only materials, but a space for working and learning from books, online, and each other. Our libraries are active centers for each of our schools, which really mirrors the experience at the public library.

What are the benefits you envision with the new Village Catalog?

Being a library card holder is such an important part of being a member of a community; we are proud to be part of a community that welcomes patrons of all ages. Becoming part of the Village Catalog expands the materials selection for our students exponentially, since the school library budgets are limited.

Of particular note are the digital holdings and access to full-text news articles. This was a missing piece for our high school students in particular who were trying to do research, but struggled to find relevant, timely, and reliable information for their areas of study.

What are other ways the schools collaborate with the public library?

Our school district has valued the partnership of the public library for many years. We have collaborated on many projects, including author visits, book studies, and college planning programs. We are excited to fortify our partnership through the addition of these services.

Thank you to Anne and to our partnerships with both Estes Park and Eagle Rock Schools.

Curious about the Estes Village Catalog? Need help narrowing down your search results? Wondering how to request a new book? Maybe you have a favorite author–and want to find similar writing styles? We’re here  to help. A million items is a lot to sort through, but the possibilities are as bountiful as springtime.

Library Closed

❄️ The library will be closed Saturday, March 13 and Sunday, March 14 due to forecast heavy snow.

We will update this message with more information about our Monday hours when available.

Book Clubs and Local Partners Bring People Together

by Cheryl Homan-Wendell, Literary Services Librarian

Cheryl Homan-Wendell

We’ve all come to know libraries as a place to find a good read. Curious about a particular topic? Sure, we have lots of titles on lots of subjects. Then you might wonder — are there others interested in the same things as I am? Chances are—the answer is ‘yes’. Books bring people together!

One great asset at the Library is our book club partnerships. Collaborating with individual groups and community organizations is a win-win. The Library can respond to topics on your mind, providing multiple copies of books and promotion to other readers. The partner organization brings their expertise to the table by facilitating the group conversation, which also heightens their visibility in the community.

Most of all, our community is strengthened by coming together to discuss a common interest or concern.

Case in point: wouldn’t it be great to have a space to explore personal growth tools from a variety of authors and spiritual traditions? MeeMee Lahman had this vision for the Being Awareness Book Club in 2019, a Library partnership with Salud Family Health Center. The goal: to discover self-improvement strategies through selected books and to learn from fellow readers.

Two years later, MeeMee, a licensed therapist, says this book group continues to provide her “with inspiration, learning opportunities, and new insights.”

How about ways to address real-world problems through the lens of restorative practices? Every October, the Library collaborates with Estes Valley Restorative Justice Partnership (EVRJP) for book discussions on conflict resolution. This has expanded into year-round opportunities for meaningful community conversations.

In fact, this partnership earned a statewide award in 2019. As Denise Lord, executive director of EVRJP explains, “The Library as a neutral convener of community programs and EVRJP’s team of volunteer facilitators are a well-suited match.”

In 2020, race relations became a topic of renewed urgency. Estes Valley Crisis Advocates (EVCA) brought their expertise to multiple book discussions. Drawing upon bestselling titles, group discussions focused on racism, personal awareness and social concerns.

This partnership continues to grow in 2021. Each month, an EVCA counselor or trained volunteer facilitates a small and inclusive conversation, generally oriented towards healing. The goal: helping people connect, discuss, learn and grow. “I believe we have been successful,” says Rosemary, EVCA’s Diversity Outreach Advocate. “We have had people show up eager to participate and learn together to better themselves and their communities.”

On the horizon, the Library is excited to work with the Estes Chamber of Commerce for their Business Book Club. This partnership begins in April, with titles focused on profitable enterprise, marketing and leadership. As participants build their business acumen, they will also learn more about the Chamber, its members, and the support this network provides local businesses.

So much is possible through community collaboration. Let the public library provide support and resources for your interests. To find out more, or to connect with the Estes Valley’s many local book clubs, email me at

Powered by Kindness: 9 ways we all work together

by Ann Finley, President, Estes Valley Library Friends & Foundation

Ann Finley, Friends & Foundation President,
and trail runner

As February draws to a finish, we give a final cheer to Love Your Local Library Month. We’ve been spotlighting the process that guides us: the Library actively listens, identifying community needs, and forming those into Strategic Goals. Powered by kindness, Library Friends & Foundation donors transform that vision to reality.

Library donors and volunteers make great things happen year-round to elevate our local quality of life. Here is a sampling of 9 ways—all made possible by “Library Love” contributions:

Welcoming Spaces: As our library building turns 30, it’s adjusted nimbly to changing times and new innovations, thanks to donors—from the inviting Kids’ Space to the comfortable Quiet Room.

Makerspace: tools and technology unite for creative hands-on learning, made possible by Library Love. Last year, the 3D printers didn’t rest. They went to work making parts for face-shields needed by frontline healthcare workers.

One Book One Valley: maybe you were among the hundreds who took part in last month’s all-community reading celebration—and a conversation with a bestselling author. Books are a great way to connect with friends—and make new ones.

Monthly Book Discussions: as with One Book One Valley, donors make it possible to have books to share for discussion. Join us year-round, as we spotlight popular genres—and delve into topics from today’s headlines, often with partners like Estes Valley Crisis Advocates and Estes Valley Restorative Justice Partnership.

Lucky Day Collection: Have you seen the great selection of today’s bestsellers on display right inside the atrium? There’s no wait and no hassles—and in minutes you’ll be on your way with a hot new title.

Growing Early Readers: Library Love is placing Storytime Kits into the hands of our youngest readers, helping assure they’ll be school-ready and creating a path for lifelong literacy. We’re forging new opportunities for early literacy in 2021—stay tuned!

Summer Reading Program: thanks to reading incentives and fun programs, we can keep kids reading all summer-long, while we adults join in the fun too. It’s made possible by community generosity. All the excitement returns this May, with the 2021 theme, “Tails and Tales”.

Preserving a Community Treasure: did you know you can view Estes Park’s historic newspapers through 1965—right from home? Click Here and discover all the original articles, images, and ads. More years will be scanned, thanks to donors, and a partnership with the Estes Park Museum and Estes Park Trail-Gazette.

Service for All: everyone should feel welcome at the library. Donor support helps make that possible—from English-Language-Learning kits and resources, to equity-and-diversity training for library staff. Our commitment to hospitality is a commitment to all!

Love Your Library Month is a brief 28 days. Yet library generosity shines bright and impacts lives every day of the year. Find out more here or by contacting Friends & Foundation Development Director Sarah Walsh at

Cliffhanger Celebrates Two Years as Hub for Generosity

by Kurtis Kelly, Communications Specialist

In the two years since Cliffhanger Used Books opened next to the Post Office, the store has become a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Maybe it’s the purple and gray exterior that catches people’s eyes. Maybe it’s the iconic logo with a reading rock climber. Maybe it’s the interior, with cozy nooks of bookshelf genres with the feel of a welcoming home.

During this month of Library Love, we’re recognizing the contributions of donors and volunteers in sustaining and growing the services of the local library, all for the greater benefit of our mountain village. Cliffhanger’s double entryways are portals through which that generosity takes form.

Interior of Cliffhanger Used Books

Cliffhanger is operated by the Library Friends & Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit raising funds to support the Library’s strategic goals, aligned with identified community needs. Sarah Walsh, Development Director for the Friends & Foundation, explains how Cliffhanger has become an essential part of that process.

How did Cliffhanger Used Books come about?

“In 2018, the Friends & Foundation faced a turning point. After 25 years of holding Book Sale fundraisers, circumstances left us without a venue or sustainable offsite storage. We carefully studied multiple options, including the end of used book sales altogether. Then the opportunity came along to acquire a permanent retail site. Now all the book donations, sorting, and sales occur in one happy place—year-round.”

Who runs the store?

“It’s been a labor of love by volunteers from the get-go. Volunteers did the work to transform the building into a bookstore, painting walls and removing old carpet.

Volunteers sort and organize all the donations. Volunteers staff the front counter, allowing the store to be open 6 days a week. Our teen volunteers have been great helpers too. We welcome new volunteers.”

What can shoppers expect?

“Inside the store are thousands of used books, DVDs, CDs—even sheet music—all sorted in genre categories for easy browsing. It’s a treasure trove for book lovers and bargain hunters. There’s the satisfaction that every purchase helps the library.”

Do you take used book donations?

“We sure do. People are delighted to know their gently-used books will find happy new homes, and strengthen the library in the process.” [Here is a helpful guide to what materials are accepted].

What’s on the second level?

“Above the store are three residential apartments, and that’s another way we support the Library. Like many employers, the Library has a need for workforce housing to attract and retain their skilled professionals. The apartments offer housing opportunities prioritized for Library staff, at regular rental rates, then to the general public when available. Rental income covers the mortgage, allowing the store’s proceeds to go directly to the library.”

Cliffhanger Used Books is one of many ways that Library Love multiplies community-wide, with proceeds funding projects like Grab-and-Go Storytime Kits and One Book One Valley events. Have you visited Cliffhanger lately? If not, February is a great time. Coffee Table books and Romance books are on sale: $2 hardcover and $1 paperback, plus tax.

Book recommendations from Kim Michele Richardson

Kentucky authors:
The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, by John Fox, Jr.
Godpretty in the Tobacco Field, Kim Michele Richardson
The Collected Works of Effie Waller Smith
The Best Loved Short Stories of Jesse Stuart

Some of Kim’s favorite books:
News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
The Woodsman’s Daughter, by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
Icy Sparks, by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
The Queen’s Gambit, by Walter Tevis
Winter’s Bone, by Daniel Woodrell

Interested in any titles or formats not in the Library’s collections? Just tell us (with this easy-to-use form) and “We’ll Get it For You“.

A Great Village Deserves a Million (Books and more)

by Claudine Perrault, Director

Would you like to have the abundance of big-city library service, right at home in our quiet mountain village? Well then, have I got some good news for you:

The public library, all three school libraries, and Eagle Rock School, have merged our collections into one giant search-catalog for everyone. Library patrons of all ages can now choose from any of those one-million items to be delivered to their library location or reading device. That’s right. One million.

While this gives local students a learning and research foothold not possible before, and provides thrifty and nerdy efficiencies to all three organizations, the benefits are truly for everyone: all local library collections, in one glance, with just one search.

How does it work? Browse the Village Catalog at No matter where those physical or digital books, audio, movies or magazines call home, simply reserve them with your library card, and we’ll route things your way.

Anyone with a library card can pick up materials held at any of these locations, at either the downtown public library or at the Twig (mini-branch – when the Rec Center opens its base floor again). Students can also pick up materials at their school library if they choose. Estes Valley Library patrons can have school-library items sent to the library kiosk at the Rec Center (once re-opened), or downtown for either inside or curbside pickup.

Our Village Catalog also comes with another giant benefit: the convenience of searching both print and digital content in one place. Digital collections include hundreds of thousands of digital Books and Audiobooks, along with downloadable music, movies, TV shows, and comic books.

Thanks to this new system, now there are many smart-search features designed to save you time. Example: the “Did you mean?” feature takes the pressure off spelling. Forgot that ‘a’ in bestselling author’s name “Michaelides”? No problem — it’ll know what you mean!

The Village Catalog wouldn’t have been possible without dedicated partners at the Estes Park School District and Eagle Rock School. These organizations are working with us in the spirit of our guiding Mission: “To bring people, ideas and opportunities together for the enrichment of our community.”

Got questions? Give the Library a call because we’ve got answers. We’ll happily guide you through the new features. Because the Village Catalog comes with the best of both worlds: big-city convenience matched with friendly small-town assistance.

Yeah, Estes! Truly our commonwealth.

One Book One Valley Grand Finale:
An Evening with Author Kim Michele Richardson


An evening with Kim Michele Richardson, bestselling author of the 2021 winner of One Book One Valley, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.


Tonight’s program is NOW FULL. Use the button below to be placed on the Waiting List.


Library Love in 2021

Are you ready to share your Library Love in 2021?

Here is how your recurring gift will support your Library:

$5/month = Purchase material for the 3D Printers for COVID relief

$10/month = Enjoy One Book, One Valley Programs

$25/month = Add new releases to the Lucky Day Collection

$50/month = Buy more storytime kits for Early Literacy

$100/month = Staff development around Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Your monthly donation to the Estes Valley Library Friends & Foundation makes you a Library Lover. Please enjoy the benefits of membership with a 10% discount on every purchase at Cliffhanger Used Books.

Please CLICK HERE to start your recurring gift to the Estes Valley Library