Last March, Denver’s Central Library closed because of the pandemic. 15 months later, it’s finally back open

At first, access will be limited to parts of the first floor and a few other spaces as a major renovation continues through 2022.

Children’s Librarian Amy Seto Forrester stocks some of the stacks that will be available on main floor of the Denver Public Library’s Central Library on Friday, July 17, 2021. The facility will reopen with limited access to the first floor, computer rooms, and social service facilities to the public on Sunday, July 16 after being closed first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then owing to extensive renovations.

Children’s Librarian Amy Seto Forrester stocks some of the stacks that will be available on main floor of the Denver Public Library’s Central Library on Friday, July 17, 2021. The facility will reopen with limited access to the first floor, computer rooms, and social service facilities to the public on Sunday, July 16 after being closed first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then owing to extensive renovations.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

The crown jewel of the Denver Public Library system closed its doors at the start the pandemic in March last year, but as the health crisis dragged on, DPL used the closure to get started on the first major renovations on the building since 1995. On Friday, reporters got a limited-to-the-first-floor preview of the renovations.

A security guard walks in the Denver Public Library’s Central Library on Friday, July 17, 2021. The facility will reopen with limited access to the first floor, computer rooms, and social service facilities to the public on Sunday, July 16 after being closed first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then owing to extensive renovations.

A security guard walks in the Denver Public Library’s Central Library on Friday, July 17, 2021. The facility will reopen with limited access to the first floor, computer rooms and social service facilities to the public on Sunday, July 16 after being closed first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then owing to extensive renovations.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Denver Public Library’s Central Library will reopen with limited access to the first floor, computer rooms, and social service facilities to the public on Sunday, July 16 after being closed first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then owing to extensive renovations.

Tape covers exposed wires in the computer room of the Denver Public Library’s Central Library.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

The cavernous Schlessman Hall on the first floor, typically accessed from the Broadway entrance, will look pretty much the same, but there will be desks where patrons can request titles — rather than going upstairs into the stacks — for now. The computer room will be open again, as will the express internet stations. The elevators and restrooms on the main floor have been completely overhauled and modernized.

A construction worker in the Denver Public Library’s Central Library on Friday, July 17, 2021. The facility will reopen with limited access to the first floor, computer rooms, and social service facilities to the public on Sunday, July 16 after being closed first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then owing to extensive renovations.

A construction worker in the Denver Public Library’s Central Library on Friday, July 17, 2021.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Interim operations manager Megan Hartline, left, and administrator Rachel Fewll in the renovated restrooms on the main floor of the Denver Public Library’s Central Library on Friday, July 17, 2021.

Interim operations manager Megan Hartline, left, and administrator Rachel Fewll in the renovated restrooms on the main floor of the Denver Public Library’s Central Library on Friday, July 17, 2021.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

In recent years, the library has become a hub of services for people with no internet access, and for the unhoused and unemployed. There will be a new and more private space for those coming to the library for social services. And work on a new event space and re-imagined children’s library is also underway.

Jeff Riley, executive director of the Denver Public Library Foundation, talks to reporters during a tour of the Central Library’s main floor on Friday, July 16, 2021.

Jeff Riley, executive director of the Denver Public Library Foundation, talks to reporters during a tour of the Central Library’s main floor on Friday, July 16, 2021.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Denver Public Library’s Central Library will reopen with limited access to the first floor, computer rooms, and social service facilities to the public on Sunday, July 16 after being closed first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then owing to extensive renovations.

A charging station at Denver Public Library’s Central Library on July 16, 2021.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

These updates, costing $69.3 million, also include improvements to 10 branch libraries. They represent about half of the total planned eight phases of work on the structure, which was built in 1955 and then completely redesigned and enlarged under a design by architect Michael Graves in 1995. The work is being paid for through the $973 million Elevate Denver general obligation bond approved by city voters in 2017.

The Denver Public Library’s Central Library is reflected in the windows of the new Sie Welcome Center of the Denver Art Museum on Friday, July 16, 2021. The Central Library will reopen with limited access to the first floor, computer rooms, and social service facilities to the public on Sunday, July 16 after being closed first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then owing to extensive renovations.

The Denver Public Library’s Central Library is reflected in the windows of the new Sie Welcome Center of the Denver Art Museum on Friday, July 16, 2021.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
“I had always imagined paradise as a kind of library,” reads a quote from writer Jorge Luis Borges on one of the facade stones of the Denver Public Library’s Central Library. The facility will reopen with limited access to the first floor, computer rooms, and social service facilities to the public on Sunday, July 16 after being closed first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then owing to extensive renovations.

“I had always imagined paradise as a kind of library,” reads a quote from writer Jorge Luis Borges on one of the facade stones of the Denver Public Library’s Central Library.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

The Central Library opened its doors to limited first floor access on Sunday and will operate Sunday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Curbside pickup service will be available Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. and Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. More details can be found at denverlibrary.org.

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Denverite members have made the decision to financially support local journalism that matters to you. Ready to tell your networks why? Sharing our “About” page with your own personal comments could really help us out.