Book Club Resource

Celebrating Black Voices with the Book Club Resource

The Colorado State Library would like to invite everyone to celebrate Black History Month with our newly updated Book Club Resource! Over the past year, we have refocused our energy toward making our book club collection more diverse and inclusive, so that readers from all cultures and backgrounds can find stories for them written by someone like them. This Black History Month, we are proud to highlight some of our favorite black voices as we remember the struggles of the past and work toward a more equitable future.


Citizen: An American Lyric
by Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.


The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.


March: Book 1
by John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president. Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole).

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall. Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.” Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.


The Origins of Others
by Toni Morrison

America’s foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid?

Drawing on her Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison takes up these and other vital questions bearing on identity in The Origin of Others. In her search for answers, the novelist considers her own memories as well as history, politics, and especially literature. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Camara Laye are among the authors she examines. Readers of Morrison’s fiction will welcome her discussions of some of her most celebrated books―BelovedParadise, and A Mercy.

If we learn racism by example, then literature plays an important part in the history of race in America, both negatively and positively. Morrison writes about nineteenth-century literary efforts to romance slavery, contrasting them with the scientific racism of Samuel Cartwright and the banal diaries of the plantation overseer and slaveholder Thomas Thistlewood. She looks at configurations of blackness, notions of racial purity, and the ways in which literature employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative. Expanding the scope of her concern, she also addresses globalization and the mass movement of peoples in this century. National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates provides a foreword to Morrison’s most personal work of nonfiction to date.


The Coldest Winter Ever
by Sister Souljah

During one of New York’s worst snow storms, Winter is born to Ricky Santiaga and his wife. At the age of sixteen, Winter is well-accustomed to a life of decadence provided by her notorious father who commands an intricate family web of drug dealers in their Brooklyn ghetto. As familiar as she is with riches, she is also acutely aware of the devastation of urban poverty to which she is determined never to succumb.

Her father’s decision to move his family to Dix Hills, an affluent Long Island suburb, creates unimaginable consequences. Winter is left alone to find her way precariously through the shifting maze of power, sex, money, and drugs, determined to vindicate her father and rise above the laws, social welfare system, poverty, and dangers that surround her.

Author Sister Souljah, a political activist, is a part of this story as a constant voice through all of Winter’s struggles. Winter hears Souljah’s voice intermittently on the radio and lives with her briefly while in pursuit of her own dubious ambitions. Souljah’s pleas to the young black women she works with to realize their dignity, beauty, and inner power fail to find a place to rest in Winter’s driven spirit.

The Coldest Winter Ever is a fast-moving, impeccably brilliant account of choices and consequences within the urban hip-hop culture. Sister Souljah writes eloquently with expressive insights and language of youth. Amidst the crisis and cruelty of inner city poverty and seemingly insurmountable struggles, Sister Souljah’s voice is one of grace and unmistakable clarity in one young woman’s coming-of-age story.


Celebrate black history all year long by checking out these and many other great titles from the Colorado State Library’s Book Club Resource!

(All book descriptions taken from

CSL News

CSL Welcomes New State Librarian Nicolle Ingui Davies!

The Colorado State Library (CSL) is thrilled to welcome our new State Librarian, Nicolle Ingui Davies, to our CSL team and back to her Colorado home. Davies holds both a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and a Master’s in Library and Information Sciences (MLIS), making her perfectly suited to this leadership role. Davies returns to Colorado from her position as Executive Director of the Charleston County Public Library (SC), where she has been since she left her role as Executive Director of the Arapahoe Library District (CO) in 2016.

During her 12 years with the Arapahoe Library District, Davies was named Library Journal’s 2016 Librarian of the Year, in part for her role in securing a $6 million budget increase for the district’s libraries.  The increase in funding allowed Davies and her team to maintain a high level of service, while providing increased access to resources and technology that might otherwise have been out of reach of the typical household. In this way, Davies was able to make the libraries in her district a more essential part of the community and more patron-focused than ever before.

The Colorado State Library staff would like to give a very special thanks to Sharon Morris for all her hard work while she held the position of Interim State Librarian during this transition. Though the process has been longer and more arduous than anticipated, we at the Colorado State Library are excited to take our first steps forward in confidence under our new leadership as we continue to support libraries throughout the state. So please join us in welcoming Nicolle Ingui Davies home to Colorado and to her new team at the Colorado State Library!

Colorado State Publications Blog Lifelong Literacy

Family Literacy Resources

Winter break is a great time to read with your kids! Learning doesn’t just happen at school; it happens at home, too. The Colorado Department of Education defines family literacy as the following:

Family Literacy

Integrates all the following activities:

  • Parent or family adult education and literacy activities that lead to readiness for postsecondary education or training, career advancement and economic self-sufficiency;
  • Interactive literacy activities between parents or family members and their children;
  • Training for parents or family members on how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children; AND
  • An age appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences.

If you’re looking for ways to be more involved in your child’s education, here are some helpful resources available from our library:

To learn about the State of Colorado’s family literacy programs, see the following:


Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: The Colorado Traveling Library Commission

In 1903 the Colorado Legislature passed an act creating the Colorado Traveling Library Commission. Appointed by the governor, the commission consisted of five volunteers from Colorado women’s clubs who oversaw the shipment of boxes of books to Colorado schools and towns. The program’s goals were to create a “love and habit of reading good books” and “to have more good books read per capita than any other state.”

The distribution of boxes of books was made to rural communities across the state. Each box contained fifty books of mixed collections of fiction and nonfiction. Anyone from a community could request the box, but they had to be responsible for its contents, to be returned to the commission after a period of six months. The program also sponsored a free magazine mailing to hospitals, train stations, and other public gathering places, as well as to prisons and reformatories.

During its first year, the program sponsored 122 boxes. Each box was purchased and assembled by a local club or charity; a few boxes were sponsored by individuals. Just five years later, they were up to 242 boxes! In 1912 the program’s biennial report carried comments from readers who had benefited from the program. This one is my favorite:

“I must thank you for the books. We are thirty miles from a railroad, four miles from neighbors. We have a dry claim. The hail came and left us nothing, and my husband and one son had to go away to work. Not more than once in four or five weeks do we see anyone. I cannot think what we would have done without the books. We are not able to buy books or anything. Certainly, of all charities this is the greatest.”

To learn more about the Traveling Library commission, see their biennial reports, which have been digitized by our library. Here you can find lists of the book boxes and who sponsored them; locations where the boxes were sent; and information on the commission members and other supporters. The 1910/12 report also contains a memorial tribute to Julia V. Welles, the founding leader of the program, who passed away in December 1912.

The years 1904 to 1912 were the apex of the program. After that time, the biennial reports were no longer required when the legislature changed how it appropriated funds to the program and these changes, alongside Welles’ death, caused the program to fade somewhat. But the commission did continue along until 1929, when it was was combined with the Board of Library Commissioners to create the new Colorado Library Commission. This combined program continued until 1933 with the establishment of the State Library as we know it today.

One of the commission’s traveling book boxes. Photo from the 1910/12 biennial report.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado State Library/Aspen Institute Report on Public Libraries

In May 2017 the Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries convened to give community and civil leaders from across the state the opportunity to “explore new thinking and practical solutions for using the infrastructure and expertise of public libraries to build more resilient communities in Colorado.”  The event was conducted as a partnership between the Aspen Institute and the Colorado State Library.  The partners have now issued a new report based on the discussion and “how communities can more effectively use libraries to improve and enhance the lives of their residents.”  This report contains helpful information not just for Colorado communities, but can be applied to communities nationwide. The report has been featured in Library Journal and elsewhere.

For more information see the Dialogue website or the State Library’s press release.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Vote for Colorado's Most Significant Artifact

Now through November 17, you can vote for your favorite historic Colorado artifact or document as part of the Colorado Collections Connection’s campaign to highlight the importance of our state’s historic and cultural heritage.  Artifacts were nominated by their owning institution and include items from museums and libraries large and small.  The nominees come from all over the state, including from the Denver Public Library, Fort Morgan Museum, Hayden Heritage Center, Littleton Museum, Montrose Historical Society/Museum, Monte Vista Historical Society, and others.  Nominees range from large items such as a stagecoach, to archival materials like the Longmont Museum’s collection of teacher grade books from the early- and mid-twentieth century.  Other nominees include items belonging to famous Coloradans such as William Henry Jackson and Justina Ford.  Anyone can vote, so choose your favorite today!

The Colorado Collections Connection is a partnership between the Auraria Library, History Colorado, the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums, and the Colorado State Library.  It continues the work initially started by a grant program known as Connecting to Collections.  The Most Significant Artifact program is now in its fifth year, and you can read about the first two years in the report Colorado’s Top Ten Most Significant Artifacts, 2013 and 2014, available for checkout from our library.  You can also find listings and photos of previous years’ nominees here.

Miss Yokohama, Colorado’s Japanese Friendship Doll from 1927, is among the nominees for the 2017 Colorado’s Most Significant Artifact.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Summer Reading Programs

By now, most schoolkids are out on summer break, or will be soon. While summer is a great time to play and have fun, it also brings the possibility of “summer slide.”  Libraries help kids keep their brains working while having fun at the same time by offering summer reading programs (see this article from the Durango Herald).

Summer reading programs do have an impact, as measured by the Colorado State Library’s Library Research Service (LRS).  Check out their report The Impact of Summer Reading Programs in Colorado Libraries as well as editions of their Fast Facts series on how summer reading programs impact families and how summer reading programs increase kids’ interest in reading.  For more quick statistics see the LRS’s Summer Reading Fun Facts.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Libraries Collaborate for 25 Years

This year the Colorado Libraries Collaborate (CLC) program is celebrating its 25th year!  Originally known as the Colorado Library Card program, CLC was launched in 1991 as a way for registered library users across Colorado to gain free access to materials in libraries across the state, therefore not limiting them to only the materials available in their own town, county, or school.  Today, all of Colorado’s public libraries participate in CLC, as do most school and academic libraries, and even some special libraries — greatly expanding the number of resources available to Coloradans.  For more information, see the program’s website.

You can learn about the history and implementation of the CLC program through several publications available from our library:

Also, for background on the need for the establishment of the CLC program, see Resource Sharing in Colorado, a 1988 study done by the State Library.  It is available for checkout in print.

Colorado State Publications Blog

House Resolution Recognizing Libraries

The Colorado House of Representatives has scheduled for today the consideration of HR17-1008, a resolution recognizing the importance of Colorado libraries.  The resolution states, in part, that “Colorado libraries are a vital and essential public resource that provide free and equal access to educational and recreational material and enrich the lives of all citizens.”  The resolution goes on to stress the importance of IMLS funding for libraries.  And, in paragraph 9, State Publications is listed as one of our state’s “essential library programs and services.”

You can watch the presentation of the resolution live on the House floor today (or, if you are reading this after today, you can view a recording) by going to the Colorado Channel.

The Colorado House chambers.  Photo by Tony Eitzel courtesy of Colorado General Assembly.

Colorado State Publications Blog

National Library Week

National Library Week is here!  Celebrated April 915 this year, Library Week “is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and library workers and to promote library use and support,” says the American Library Association.  Libraries provide a vital service in our communities and this week is a great time to show your support.  In our own library’s collection are many resources that illustrate the impact and importance of all types of libraries:

Colorado State Publications Blog

Banned Books Week

Libraries across the U.S. are commemorating Banned Books Week September 25-October 1.  Activities during this week are designed to promote the concept of intellectual freedom, or “freedom to read.”  Each year, many library materials are challenged in school and public libraries.  Books are challenged for a variety of reasons, including explicit content, violence, language, and other reasons.  The Library Research Service (LRS), part of the Colorado State Library, has done several statistical studies on intellectual freedom and book bans/challenges, including statistics on the most frequent reasons for the challenges.

In 2004 LRS published Intellectual Freedom Issues in Colorado:  Concerns, Challenges, Resources, and Opinions, an in-depth study of the issue.  More recently, their “Fast Facts” series has included such entries as Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries, 2015, a new report released this summer.  Another Fast Facts report looked at the 29 book challenges in Colorado public libraries in 2013.  For more statistical reports on Colorado library topics, visit the LRS website or search the State Publications Library’s online catalog.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Check Out Colorado State Parks

This summer the Colorado State Library and Colorado Parks & Wildlife have teamed up to offer Check Out Colorado State ParksUnder this program, Colorado libraries offer — for checkout just like a book — backpacks containing a parks pass vehicle hangtag, a set of binoculars, various guidebooks, and other cool stuff.  It’s a great way to visit our 42 state parks for free, and learn about Colorado libraries, too. You can also check out the guidebooks individually from the State Publications Library.  With the arrival of fall colors, now is a great time to go Check Out Colorado!

Colorado State Publications Blog

History of Libraries in Colorado

The Colorado State Library is a good place to start when researching the history of your local library, whether it be for an anniversary celebration, preservation of a historic structure, or just general interest.  The best place to start is in two publications that were put together by the State Library.  Although they are old, so do not contain current information, they do contain significant early history of libraries in Colorado.  These publications are Colorado’s Century of Public Libraries (1959) and Colorado Public Libraries 1876-1976:  Historical Sketches, Including Histories of the Regional Library Service Systems and the Colorado State Library (1977), both of which are available for checkout.  Another more recent, privately-published publication is Libraries in the Nooks and Crannies of Colorado:  Small Public Libraries in Rural Communities (2009).

Other publications that help tell the stories of libraries in Colorado include the Colorado Library Directory; statistical publications; library planning and development publications; and county/district public library jurisdictional documents.  Also be sure to consult the Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which includes information on libraries in Colorado in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. General information on the early establishment of libraries and library law in Colorado can be found in an 1897 publication, Libraries: Their Establishment and Management, issued by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Also be sure to check out the State Library newsletters, which contain information on library happenings across Colorado.  Centennial State Libraries was the State Library’s newsletter from 1985 through 2008.  It is available online from 1997-2008 and in print from 1985-2001. Other State Library newsletters under various titles are available back to the 1940s.   

For information on historic library buildings in Colorado, see the Colorado Historical Society’s Directory of Library Buildings in the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties.

This is only a small sampling of the many documents and publications about libraries in Colorado that can be accessed from the Colorado State Library.  For many more resources, search the web catalogs for the State Publications Library and the Colorado State Library Collection.  (The State Publications Library contains publications for public use published by state agencies.  The Colorado State Library Collection includes commercially published material, professional resources, and Colorado documents not published by state agencies but relating to libraries and education in Colorado).

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Judicial Learning Center

The State of Colorado’s judicial branch offers a fun, unique way for all ages to learn about the state’s judicial processes — the Judicial Learning Center.  Developed in partnership with the Colorado Supreme Court Library, “the Learning Center is a 4,000-square-foot museum-style space that is full of interactive, fun, and informative exhibits,” according to their website.  The Learning Center’s website also contains a number of helpful educational resources, including curricula information for schools, lesson plans, and more.  Some of the Learning Center’s interactive exhibits include an animated wall demonstrating the development and application of the Constitution; video interviews of judges; demonstrations of the legal process and court hierarchies; games where the visitor can be the lawyer or the judge; and a touch-screen map of Colorado where visitors can select counties, districts, water divisions, or tribal lands. The Judicial Learning Center is a hands-on, experiential way to teach kids, visitors, new Coloradans, and anyone else about the Colorado court system.

The Learning Center is located in the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center and is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm. 

The Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center is located a 2 E. 14th Avenue (on 14th between Broadway and Lincoln) in downtown Denver.  Photo courtesy Colorado Judicial Branch.
Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Water Resources Archive

Water and the issues surrounding it — water rights, drought and climate, flooding, availability, etc. — is an important topic in our state where this diminishing resource must be found for millions of residents.  Colorado State University Libraries and the Colorado Water Institute have put together a Water Resources Archive that includes thousands of resources, both current and historical, regarding water in our state.  The site includes numerous digital objects including studies, reports, and theses and dissertations, but also includes some valuable historical content such as online exhibits, photographs, and, most recently, a collection of oral histories about the 2013 northern Colorado floods

This digital archive is a great place to start if you are researching water issues in Colorado — but also be sure to check out the State Publications Library’s resources, which also offers numerous reports and studies on water through our digital repository.  Our library also offers a large collection of print documents — search our online catalog for these as well as links to online serials and other documents.

Colorado State Publications Blog

October 10 is Electronic Records Day!

This coming Saturday, October 10, is Electronic Records Day, where we recognize the importance of preserving our digital heritage and making our history more accessible online.  Aside from recognizing the benefits of preservation and access, Electronic Records Day also promotes the preservation of the electronic records themselves, which can deteriorate or become unreadable over time as computer programs change and develop.  Just because a document has been placed online doesn’t mean it is permanent — be sure to keep your records accessible by updating them as computer programs advance.  Don’t lose your personal or community history by neglecting to preserve your electronic documents!

You can search through thousands of Colorado state government documents at our library’s digital repository.  Other helpful repositories containing digital documents, particularly those from state colleges and universities, include the Digital Collections of Colorado repository, a consortium of Colorado public universities hosted by Colorado State University; the University of Colorado’s CU Scholar; and the University of Northern Colorado’s Digital UNC.  There are many others, so search your local library or university library’s website for digital documents.  Be sure to also check the Internet Archive for electronic documents
from libraries across the United States.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Vote for Colorado's Most Significant Artifacts

Now through November 30, you can vote for Colorado’s Most Significant Artifacts.  This is the second annual campaign by Colorado Collections Connection (formerly Colorado Connecting to Collections, and of which the Colorado State Library is a part) that seeks to bring awareness to the unique treasures held in Colorado’s libraries, museums, and archives.  The artifacts are nominated by their owning institutions; this year, artifacts and documents come from a wide range of institutions including Colorado State Archives, Denver Public Library, Steelworks Center of the West, Pueblo City-County Library, History Colorado, and small museums around the state including Montrose, Gold Hill, Littleton, Estes Park, and others.  The nominated items include those telling the story of Amache relocation camp; the 1955 United Airlines crash over Longmont; the Cheyenne tribe; Colorado’s participation in the Civil War; mining history; and more.  Anyone can participate — vote for your favorite item today!

For information on last year’s (2013/14) inaugural contest, read the final report available from our library, or check out the winners here.  For more about Colorado Collections Connection, visit their website.

                                           Colorado State Archives’ collection of mugshots of Colorado 
                                                  inmates dating back to 1871 is among the artifacts competing 
                                                                 in Colorado’s Most Significant Artifacts.

Colorado State Publications Blog

School Librarians

School librarians play an important role in students’ education.  To find out how, check out the Colorado State Library’s DVD and brochure, Your School’s Team Deserves a Star PlayerThe DVD is available for checkout from our library.  For more in-depth information about the value of school librarians, see School Librarians Continue to Help Kids Achieve Standards, a publication of the Library Research Service.  Check out our web catalog for more resources, including non-governmental publications that can be found in our library’s Professional Collection.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Libraries Collaborate (CLC) Program

September is National Library Card Sign-up Month, and if you live in Colorado, there are numerous resources available to you outside your home public library thanks to the Colorado Libraries Collaborate (CLC) program.  Originally known as the Colorado Library Card program, CLC allows Colorado library patrons to borrow materials — for free — at all participating CLC libraries across the state.  With CLC, Coloradans have easy access to many more resources than any single library could to provide.  Currently all of Colorado’s public libraries and most other libraries are CLC members.  If you are interested in learning more about the program, visit any Colorado public library or view the information on the State Library’s website.  This website also provides information for libraries looking to participate in the program, with a link to a How Libraries Participate page with a handbook, forms, and promotional materials.  Also, for historical reference, in our library you can find the original implementation manual from 2002.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

August is back-to-school month, and if you have a little one headed to school for the first time, be sure to check out the Colorado State Library’s Getting Ready for Kindergarten:  Ready, Set, GO!  brochures.  Available both in English and in Spanish, these brochures offer helpful tips to parents about encouraging early literacy as well as checklists for making sure your child is ready for kindergarten in the areas of social and emotional skills and general knowledge and motor skills.  Help your child succeed in kindergarten by making sure they are ready to GO! 

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado's LJ "Notable Government Documents" 2013

Four Colorado state publications have been named 2013 Notable Government Documents by Library Journal, as announced in the May 15 issue.  All four publications are available from our library.  They are: