In the olden days, libraries checked out books. As a kid, you were only allowed to check out certain books. Librarians were old, stern, and somewhat to be feared. But my weekly trip to the library with my mom and sisters was always something I looked forward to.
How libraries have changed. Periodicals, CDs, DVD, and computers for community access are common. But, the library in the small town of Bayfield, Colorado (population slightly less than 4000) is throwing out the old ideas, replacing them with the Living Library. We were treated to a tour of this remarkable library (voted Best Small Library in the Country this year) by Director Amy Dodson.
In addition to the usual stuff, this library has a community garden with raised beds available for seasonal use by residents.Different heights facilitate use by people in wheelchairs or with disabilities. Tools are stored in the coolest straw bale shed, complete with a living roof. Fruit trees have been planted – fruit is donated to local food banks. There’s a geodesic dome greenhouse with a fishtank inside, which provides nutrient-rich water for bedding plants. A cooking demo area provides a space to help people learn how to prepare foods they’ve grown. A beehive, complete with 24-hour BeeCam is being added this year. Local resources and artists have been utilized. Many building materials are sustainable, recycled, and reused. It’s impressive.
Bayfield has no movie theater, so the Library is the community theater. A large screen covers the garden side of the building, and movies are shown weekly. A two-sided, indoor/outdoor fireplace and a second firepit complete the cozy setting.
Not only can you check out books and stuff here, you can also check out garden tools and tools. A donated shed is being refurbished to house these in-demand items.Digital devices – laptops, tablets, cameras, ipods, ipads can be checked out just like books. Cookware and bakeware will be available this fall. Amy’s thinking about musical instruments and bicycles for future programsWow. What a jewel. Thanks for the tour, Amy.