From housing scrolls and books made of delicate parchment paper to cabinets filled with Dewey Decimal cards and microfiche slides to laserdiscs and CDs, and now e-books and computers offering access to unlimited information, community libraries have come a long way.

Also gone are the old-school librarians who stoically stood guard behind the counter, shushing and shaming patrons for talking or making any noise in the eerily quiet building.

And instead of the ominous silence, local libraries are filled with children laughing and singing, teens socializing with their peers and adults gathering to talk about more than just the latest number one read on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

“We haven’t shushed people in ages,” quipped Ann Kling, director of the Clearview Library District . Kling and the library district oversee the Windsor-Severance Library, located at 720 Third St. in Windsor.

The Clearview Library District’s bookmobile brings the library out to the community through stops at parks, schools and residential communities. (Courtesy/Clearview Library District)

Throughout the years, local libraries have transitioned from just buildings with books to places where every patron who walks through the door has an equal opportunity to learn and expand their knowledge and skills.

“When I started, technology and the internet didn’t exist, everything was books. But libraries keep morphing,” Kling said. “Libraries level the playing field so that if there is a family who doesn’t have means, they still have access to the same things that the kids who go out and buy these things have access to.”

The Windsor-Severance Library is a safe space for all, Kling added. No one is criticized or kicked out.

“Libraries are still one of the few places left that are open to everybody. You don’t pay when you come through the door, it’s paid by your tax dollars,” Kling said.

Libraries have also become places where people can meet and make friends.

Through its programs like Babies and Books, Family Bingo, book clubs, trivia events and classes and groups for teens, the Windsor-Severance Library offers opportunities for all ages of community members to make connections and socialize.

The Windsor-Severance Library is located at 720 Third St. in Windsor. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

“You can be in storytime with your child and there’s another mom your age, so you make a connection. Or you’re a person who is a senior citizen who just moved here and want to make new friends so you come to a program,” Kling said.  “It’s that connection that libraries are all about.”

Kling joined the Clearview Library District in November 2011 after moving from Buffalo, N.Y. to be closer to her kids and grandkids who live in the Denver area.

“It’s a story that happens a lot, especially in Colorado. My son came here to go to graduate school and he met his wife. He told me ‘Mom, I’m not coming back.’ And his sister got a job at Six Flags in Denver and she and her boyfriend moved out here,” Kling said. “So I was back there by myself and I thought, ‘what am I doing here?’ Especially when my son and his wife had my first grandchild.”

While Kling had no problem finding open library jobs, many were located in mountain towns where real estate and rent prices were extremely high.

“I went to an interview in Basalt and it was great. They had already broken ground for a new library and the staff was amazing,” Kling explained. “But then I started driving around to see what real estate looked like and a little tiny ranch house was around $750,000 and a trailer in a trailer park was $250,000 — and that was in 2010.”

After withdrawing her name from the applicant pool, Kling looked into a library job in Boulder. Again, the cost of living exceeded what she would make on a library director’s salary.

“They warned you up front; you won’t be able to live in Boulder,” Kling said. “They said I’d have to live in one of the ‘L towns’ — Lyons, Loveland, Longmont— and drive in everyday.”

It wasn’t until she was at a conference that a recruiter gave Kling a heads up on a job opening at the Windsor-Severance Library.

Ann Kling, director of the Clearview Library District. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

Kling was familiar with Fort Collins, but never heard of Windsor. Despite being discouraged, Kling looked into the housing market in the area, researched the community and submitted her application for the position. After a second interview, Kling was offered the job and accepted immediately.

“It’s only a little over an hour away from Denver where my kids are. It’s a great library, it’s a great community and this is a nice place,” she said.

As the community continues to grow, Kling is working to provide additional library resources to the town. However, finding funding to grow and expand the library district’s resources is a bit trickier than finding funding to support fire and police departments and schools.

“If you talk to the fire chief and the school superintendent, we have the same issue. The rapid growth within our district, that’s hard to keep up with,” Kling explained. “We fall after the school district, after the fire district, after the police so funding is an issue when you need to grow.”

At the time the Windsor-Severance Library opened in 1997, the town’s population sat at around 9,800 residents. Since then, the population of Windsor has ballooned to nearly 27,000— a 172% increase.

According to a study commissioned by the library district, the town is projected to reach 211,662 residents by 2045.

Unlike other entities and organizations in the community, the library district doesn’t have the option to propose an increase to the town’s sales tax. Funding for the library district comes from property taxes and any request to increase funding for the library would need to take place through a mill levy, which would be voted on by the community.

“No one really wants to pay more property tax, and I understand that,” Kling said.

Despite their limited budget, Kling and the library board are dedicated to doing what they can to improve services and resources for the community.

The Windsor-Severance Library is currently undergoing renovations to spruce up its interior look.

A statue of children reading sits outside the main entrance of the Windsor Severance Library at 720 Third St. in Windsor. (Greeley Tribune file photo)

“Parts of the building were looking shabby. The last time the Windsor-Severance Library was renovated was in 2008-2009. They planned to get the bookmobile and added a garage and redid the whole color scheme,” Kling explained.

Once renovations are completed, patrons can expect to see new paint and carpet, new furniture, additional meeting spaces and more.

“I hope people will be happy when they get to see it with all the furniture in there,” Kling said. “We will have a brand new meeting room on the north side of the building so that will be available for book clubs or other groups to meet.”

The renovation project includes a larger dedicated area for teens and a programming room for younger kids.

“There will be a gaming room and some nice furniture. It’s behind a door and glass wall so they will have more privacy than what they had before,” Kling said. “We are hoping that the teens will come and use that space.”

While the library is open to the public during construction, the renovation project is expected to be completed by early to mid-March.

“The library will have a fresh new look and I am excited for the community to see it,” Kling said.

In addition to the renovation project, the library district is working on the design for its second branch that will be located in Severance.

On Oct. 1, 2020, the town of Severance met with the library district to explore a collaboration between the two organizations to build a new branch of the library.

The town and library district we able to come to an agreement for 1.72 acres of land, located south of Harmony Road and directly west of town hall, to be used for the branch.

The Windsor-Severance Library offers a variety of programs for adults, teens and children of all ages. (Greeley Tribune file photo)

The land, currently owned by the town, is being provided to the library district “in perpetuity at either no cost or a nominal cost,” according to the report. The land is valued at over $575,000.

“Truly, libraries are palaces for the people,” Kling said. “It’s that whole idea where you can come in and learn something, meet someone new, improve your life or inspire yourself, or just have a nice quiet place.”

To learn more about programs and classes offered at the Windsor-Severance Library, as well as volunteer opportunities, hours of operation, how to get a library card and other information, go to www.clearviewlibrary.org or call (970) 686-5603.


This article was originally published in Greeley Tribune