After what appears to be a swatting incident involving online threats, all branches within the Denver Public Library system reopened Thursday after a cautionary shutdown Wednesday.
DPL received a threat Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Denver police said a preliminary investigation determined the message came from out of state and that several libraries in other states were all sent similar threats.
While DPD increases patrol around branches, DPL continues to operate and the system has been experiencing some major changes.
From renovating old branches and fixing some structural issues, to creating new ones, DPL has been on a roll since 2017 when it released its master plan detailing how the organization intends to serve the needs of a growing city.
Recently, the system launched a community survey asking the public to provide feedback to the organization.
“A lot has changed in the city of Denver over the past six years,” said Michelle Jeske, city librarian, in a press release. “This survey is in direct alignment with our three year Strategic Roadmap and will allow us to learn more about what our community wants and needs from the library.”
DPL said they last conducted a public survey in 2016.
If you’re interested in taking the survey, head to a branch, mobile site or take it on a cellphone.
And if you’re wondering what’s going on with DPL? Here are a few updates.
Upcoming Westwood and Globeville Branches
According to “Activate! Denver,” DPL’s 10-year plan regarding renovation needs and branch expansion, DPL acknowledged that there were gaps in branch services, particularly in Westwood, Globeville and the RiNo section of Five Points.
The RiNo branch was completed in February. DPL officially opened the Bob Ragland Branch Library in RiNo’s ArtPark Community Hub, a three-acre public space and collaboration between DPL, RiNo Art District, the City & County of Denver, RedLine Contemporary Art Center and Focus Points Family Resource Center.
Next on the agenda is a new Westwood branch.
Westwood currently has a branch on S. Lowell Boulevard but at about 900 square feet, it’s the tiniest branch in DPL’s system.
“This small branch lacks spaces for community gatherings, learning, and programming,” DPL’s plan reads. “Space constraints necessitate a very limited circulating collection of books, movies and music. The lack of space also restricts the number of public access computers, internet service and types of programs offered.”
So last year, DPL secured funding for a bigger and better branch with the 2021 Rise Bond.
DPL is partnering with Lifespan Local, a Southwest Denver community service group, to open the new branch at the site of the old Redeemer Lutheran Church on the corner of W. Nevada and S. Irving.
Lifespan purchased the church in 2021 and intends to turn it into a community hub, featuring an early education center, a community kitchen, mental health services and a law clinic.
According to Erika Martinez, DPL’s director of communications and community engagement, the library is a perfect addition to the community hub.
“It’s really going to be a community hub, which for us is an important component,” Martinez said. “When we look for spaces, we want to be in partnership with organizations like Lifespan. The branch’s focus will also be on early childhood education, services to immigrants and refugees… Both of the Westwood branches will work together to ensure we’re offering different services that are necessary in the community.”
Martinez said Lifespan is currently working with the city to determine a groundbreaking date. Once that’s decided, DPL will have a better idea of when the branch should open.
As for the Globeville branch, DPL is still looking for a location. The branch is also a part of the Rise bond program and is seen as a major need in the neighborhood.
Martinez said DPL has narrowed it down to two locations, a Department of Housing Stability property or a Salvation Army site.
The HOST property, located on Washington Street, is set to be a mixed-use site featuring affordable housing and community spaces and will be developed by Chicago-based Evergreen Real Estate Group, Denver-based Rocky Mountain Communities and the G.E.S. Coalition.
At a recent community meeting regarding the library, DPL said the proposed community space would be a good fit for the new branch.
But, at the same meeting, community members expressed concern regarding the walkability of Washington Street, The GES Gazette reported.
Community members suggested the Salvation Army site on 47th and Broadway as a better option. Martinez said DPL is looking into the location, which is owned by Wolf and Stutz Investments, but there are currently no plans.
“They’ve expressed interest in having a library on their property but right now there’s no vision for the property,” Martinez said.
A lack of vision could mean a delay in branch opening. Javonni Butler, a project manager with Evergreen, told the Gazette if the Washington Street location is chosen, the branch could be open within four years.
Martinez said DPL will continue to work with residents regarding the site. Their next community meeting will be in October.
Ross-Cherry Creek Branch
To begin, no, the branch is NOT closing permanently and DPL has no intention of selling the building.
“It’s a rumor,” Martinez said. “Because there are a lot of different construction projects around the area and the fact that we’re closed, I think that’s sending a message to people that we are closing permanently. People are really concerned but that is not the case. We have every intention of opening this branch back up to the community. We’ve never had a conversation about selling the building.”
Martinez said the branch underwent a structural review in January that determined “more analysis was needed to ensure the structural integrity of the building.”
The branch was temporarily closed and since then DPL has worked with a contractor to complete that integrity analysis. Martinez said it’s complete but DPL is currently waiting on the results. The system believes the branch will need additional work, in which case DPL will begin coordinating with the city’s contracting process to complete the renovations.
Martinez said that can take some time and without knowing what exactly is needed, DPL can’t give an estimated opening date.
In the interim, Martinez said residents can use the Eugene Field Branch and the Schlessman Family Branch which are about two miles from the Cherry Creek branch.
The Central branch is both open and closed. The branch’s renovation is part of the 2017 Elevate Denver Bond and so far, a portion of the renovation has been completed.
Martinez said part of the first floor is open to residents, which includes computers, the Western History department and a brand new children’s library.
Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library
The Blair-Caldwell branch is still in the process of getting a major makeover for the first time in its 19-year history. The branch closed in May and is expected to reopen in 2023.