Holiday Grab Bag, December 2020

This week’s Grab Bag arrives on Wednesday and says goodbye to 2020 (it’s been real). Libraries all around the state  managed to make sweet lemonade out of 2020’s lemons, but for this special holiday edition, I wanted to turn the spotlight on my wonderful colleagues at the Colorado State Library and relive some of this year’s greatest hits.

Institutional Library Development

The Institutional Library Development (ILD) unit addresses the needs of approximately 30,000 Colorado citizens residing in 40 state-funded institutions and operates on the belief that everyone deserves a great library—especially those who face significant barriers to service. That mission has been especially challenging this year as prisons and community living centers have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. That hasn’t stopped ILD staff from providing superb support and training for library staff serving correctional institutions, including this series of training videos:

A personal favorite – Intellectual Freedom in a Correctional Library

Library Development

This year the State Library’s Library Development (LD) unit continued to provide leadership and support for public and school libraries through a whole host of programs, such as CSL in Session, Growing Readers Together, One Book Colorado, Check Out Colorado State Parks, Highly Effective School Libraries, and so much more. With the curveball of 2020, LD stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park with the Colorado Virtual Events Calendar (still going strong – keep submitting your events!), the Take & Make Activity Database, not to mention the dozens of meet ups convened for youth services, school librarians, library directors, and library marketing and communications staff. These informal opportunities to meet and share helped us learn from and support one another, and kept us connected during a difficult time when we had to reinvent ourselves overnight.

Colorado Talking Book Library

For people who can’t read standard print, the Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL) provides audio, Braille and large print books and resources to stay informed and connected to reading, stories and adventure. Though they have been closed to the public since March 20, due to the global pandemic, CTBL staff and volunteers have continued to serve patrons through the mail, providing extra cartridges so patrons would have extra books on hand. CTBL’s work would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of their volunteers, who receive a tender tribute here: 2020 Volunteer Appreciation

Grants & Funding

In addition to distributing 2019/2020 State Grants to Libraries funding, the Colorado State Library administered CARES Act Funding for Libraries, and support for Newspaper Digitization through the CHNC New Content Support Program.

State Publications Library

In addition to providing Colorado residents with free permanent access to information produced by the state government, the Colorado State Publications Library (CoSPL) regularly rounds up information and resources on their blog to keep us well informed on timely topics like COVID-19, elections, demographics, and more. CoSPL staff also works to secure and preserve our cultural heritage as part of the Colorado Cultural and Historic Resources Task Force:


Library Research Service

The Library Research Service (LRS) maintains the library jobline – which got a gorgeous new look this year, and collects and analyzes data on library use to help inform libraries and their users on the current status of services. In addition to pivoting to an all virtual format – and pulling it off, LRS’s Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) 2020 national event provided funding opportunities for Small and Rural Library staff, as well as 10 diversity scholarships covering the registration fee to attend. As we all started to get lost in the data wilderness at the beginning of the pandemic, the the LRS team launched Between a Graph and a Hard Place, a blog series that shared easy to understand and digest ways of looking at data with a critical eye by covering different strategies like: thinking about the underlying data behind visualization, identifying bias, evaluating the credentials of experts, understanding how data presentation can impact how you perceive them, and how to find multiple perspectives on the same info. Reader, bookmark this blog! It is so good.

Networking & Resource Sharing

Full disclosure: I’m a member of the Networking & Resource Sharing (NRS) team, which manages statewide services and projects so that libraries don’t have to “go it alone.” The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection continues to grow, and become more accessible, with new integration options and visibility in library catalogs. The Statewide Interlibrary Loan Fast Track, or SWIFT, a statewide ILL service for libraries of any size or type had big news in 2020. After exploring new software solutions for the SWIFT program, NRS chose to migrate SWIFT libraries to INN-Reach and connect with Prospector. Bringing these groups together in one service gets us closer to achieving a “statewide” catalog than we’ve ever been. NRS also gathered and compiled extensive data about free public WiFi across the state and created an interactive mapping tool to help libraries and their communities find free Public WiFi to complete remote learning and other crucial tasks.


Wishing you joy this holiday season. Here’s to the 2021!

Are you thinking of making a job change in 2021?  Check out Library Jobline for hot new library employment opportunities.

This post is part of the Spotlight on Sharing initiative, which aims to increase the visibility of resource sharing in Colorado libraries. Do you have a story from your library to share? Email Marisa Wood, Also, be sure to follow Colorado State Library on Twitter and Facebook.

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