Englewood Public Library reaches centennial

Beloved city facility plans events in coming months

Joseph Rios
jrios@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/9/20

Just before World War I, 10-year-old Anna Spencer was crossing the street when an automobile ran over her and killed her, according to Englewood Herald collections. Her mother, Atta Spencer, came …

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Englewood Public Library reaches centennial

Beloved city facility plans events in coming months

Posted

Just before World War I, 10-year-old Anna Spencer was crossing the street when an automobile ran over her and killed her, according to Englewood Herald collections. Her mother, Atta Spencer, came across $1.50 that Spencer had saved and pondered how she could use it to remember her daughter.

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union, a nonprofit that is dedicated to educating people about abstinence from alcohol, illegal drugs and tobacco, was raising money for a library in Englewood, but donated it to the Red Cross during World War I, according to the book “Englewood, Colorado: Its People and Its History.” And the only money that remained for the library was Spencer’s $1.50.

On May 14, 1920, after a public meeting that was attended by 20 residents who contributed to an Englewood library, the Englewood Public Library was formed with the help of Spencer’s contribution. Fast-forward 100 years, and the Englewood Public Library is still serving residents — even in a pandemic.

The Englewood Public Library is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and plans to host different events throughout the summer to honor the library. Those events are slated to include a presentation from the Englewood Historic Preservation Society, silent movies and a 1920s gala. Residents will also have an opportunity to purchase 100th birthday stickers for library cards. The sticker purchase will waive library fines for cardholders.

“The library has been a treasure. There have been lots of people across the years that have used it as a meeting place where folks from book clubs and other kinds of groups can meet together,” said Doug Cohn, archive director for the Englewood Historic Preservation Society. “It has been a really good public service.”

When the Englewood Public Library first opened, it was located in a small room in a building on the corner of Girard Avenue and Broadway. The library only had 20 books and relied on membership support. By May 1921, the Englewood Public Library was home to 2,844 books. Toward the end of that year, Englewood City Council agreed to pay $100 a month to support the library.

“Englewood was a bump in the road, so we had to build our own (library). That has been a theme in Englewood history — if we see something that needs to be done, let’s just go and do it,” said Cohn. “We don’t look for grants. We find a spot and put it together.”

The library outgrew the small room it was in and moved into the Crysler Building that included a J.C. Penney along South Broadway in 1929. In 1934, the library moved to a new Englewood city hall building at 3385 S. Broadway and to another building on South Bannock Street in 1951. By the time 1952 came around, the Englewood Public Library had 6,255 cardholders and 71,574 books in circulation. The library moved to another new Englewood city hall building on South Elati and West Girard Avenue in 1965 and remained there until 2000, when it moved to its current location at 1000 Englewood Parkway in the Englewood Civic Center.

A popular service the Englewood Public Library offered was the “Road Runner,” a bookmobile named by Janet Wooten, who was 6 at the time. The bookmobile ran from 1968 until 1991, when it was replaced by the “Rainbow Express,” another bookmobile that has since gone out of service. Among stops on the bookmobile’s route were Englewood’s elementary schools.

“It was well used not just in the school year but in the summertime too. In the summer, we did a lot of story times outside the schools, and the neighborhood kids would all come,” said Joan Clayton, who worked for the Englewood Public Library from 1986 to 2009.

Despite this year’s COVID-19 pandemic and not being able to open its doors to the public, the Englewood Public Library has been offering curbside pickup and remote services like live story time where Englewood librarians read books to children through Facebook Live.

“The biggest thing right now with the COVID-19 situation is being innovative and still connecting. People find normalcy in library services,” said Englewood Director of Parks, Recreation and Library Christina Underhill. “We’re able to still have that connection with our community while we’re closed.”

To request a book or DVD from the Englewood Public Library, visit englewood.marmot.org or call 303-762-2560.

“One of the beautiful things about Englewood is that it has a distinct sense of place, a history and a character uniquely its own. To have a 100-year-old library is a real reminder of that,” said Mark Mullis, Englewood’s library and cultural arts manager.

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