The Byers Branch Library in Lincoln Park reopened Tuesday after a year of renovation, but its revitalization is still incomplete. The Denver Public Library is planning to rename the Byers branch, after the department launched a review of its library names during the 2020 summer of social justice and unrest.
The branch is named after William Byers, founder of the Rocky Mountain News, who discriminated against Indigenous people through the news outlet. In the paper, Byers praised the Sand Creek Massacre, which left at least 200 members, mostly women, children and elders, of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes dead.
But in order to make the change, DPL wants to ask resident’s what they think the new library should be called.
DPL communications and community engagement director Erika Martinez said the library will launch a survey around mid- to late July for residents to provide their feedback. Martinez said a committee will dwindle the recommendations to two or three choices and then ask the community again to vote on a name. She said she expects the library will have a recommendation by October. The timeframe isn’t set in stone as the DPL and residents get back into the swing of life after the pandemic, but Martinez hopes a new name will be chosen by November, which is Native American Heritage Month.
Martinez said the library is also planning to educate the community more about Byers and why the DPL felt the branch needed a rebranding.
The Byers Branch opened in 1919 and is one of Denver’s five historic Carnegie libraries, according to Martinez, which were built through donations from steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie.
The last renovation to the branch was done in 1992. In November 2017, voters approved a bond which gave DPL $69.3 million for renovations to the Denver Center Library and 10 other branches.
Some of the renovations at Byers include a teen space and a new literacy space for kids. The renovation also restored a stairwell dating back to 1918.