Denver Public Library Turns 125

DPL at 125

We’ve come a long way, Denver!

On Monday, July 14, 2014 the Denver Public Library turned 125, celebrating its quasquicentennial as the state’s largest public library system. With more than 4.3 million in-person visits and 9.8 million items circulated annually, the Denver Public Library is all grown up, a far cry from its infancy in Denver’s past.

In the mid-1800s, it was easier to find a drink or place a bet than it was to find a good book to read in Denver. The town’s landscape reflected its mining roots with more than 300 saloons and gambling parlors dotting the city. As the silver boom brought more wealth — and people — to town, residents looked to shed their Wild West past and transform the town into a regional destination for goods, services and culture.

To help bring culture to the young town, the Denver Library Association opened a modest “reading room” in 1874 at the corner of 16th and Lawrence, which supported library collections by selling membership fees. While the organizers of that reading room had grand dreams of a local library, little could they imagine the immense impact the Denver Public Library would have on Denver 125 years later.

Today, the Denver Public Library boasts 25 locations across Denver including the flagship Central Library at 14th and Broadway. Charged with connecting Denver residents with information, ideas and experiences that provide enjoyment, enrich lives and strengthen the community, the Library measures its impact on Denver through three strategic community impacts:

  • Children from birth are immersed in literacy-rich environments where they discover the joy of reading and learning, motivating them to achieve and graduate from high school.
  • People’s lives are improved by acquiring the resources and skills needed to prosper and contribute to Denver’s economy.
  • People’s lives are enriched by reading, learning and engaging in experiences that make Denver a better place to live.

The Library’s annual Year in Review (PDF) tracks the progress of the library system and its impact on Denver.

An official “birthday celebration” will be held in September in conjunction with the Library’s launch of its new Volume Denver website where customers can discover, download and stream music from local Denver artists.