In the 1920s, The Library was located in the high school building as a joint library with the school. The high school was then located between 7th and 8th Streets. The high school was torn down in the 1940s, and the site became the location of the old Dolores State Bank building. The general public found parking a problem, and there was no room to sit and read with the school activities going on.
In the 1950s the old town hall burned, and the town planned to rebuild. A group of ladies from the Dolores Garden Club asked that a room be included for a town library. This room was included, as well as space for the fire department. Future plans included building a second floor for offices. According to the Dolores Star, the Library opened in the summer of 1956.
Power of Volunteers
History shows that from 1956 to 1983 volunteers and part-time staff operated the library with limited resources and service hours. The board consisted mostly of garden club members. The Town of Dolores donated money, along with the county, in order for the community to receive basic library services. The library joined the Southwest Regional Library Service System in 1968. The state established seven regions to provide consulting, workshops, and training to library staff in each region. The Library had no phone until V.T. Boyd became mayor. He had a phone installed in the library room, and the town paid the bill.
In 1983, Carole Arnold was hired as library director. She began writing grants, and the first was a Preschool Enrichment Grant. This grant built on the premise that a library’s future depends on children and provided materials and furnishings for the corner of the library designated for children’s story time. In 1984 and 1985, the Town decided they could no longer fund the Library but would continue to provide the space.
Forming the Library District
Carole began researching library law, which is part of the Colorado Revised Statutes, and met with Jon Schler of the Colorado Community Development in Grand Junction and with Cliff Fossum, Attorney for the Town of Dolores. The three established a library district, according to library law. To become a library district, there had to be two government entities to support the district, public meetings supporting the district had to be held, and the mill levy could not be over 1.5 mills. The Town of Dolores agreed to be one of the entities. The Dolores School District passed a resolution, becoming the second entity. Michael Green, a partner with Cliff Fossum, completed the paperwork on behalf of the new library district. Mancos Public Library also became a district at that time. Montezuma County provides funds to all three libraries in the county.
Short On Space
In 1986-1987, the Dolores Fire Department needed additional space as there was no room for the fire engines and rescue equipment or room to clean vehicles after a call. The Town then provided space for the fire department at the west “y” in town. At this time, the library requested the vacated space and was granted part of it. In 1987, an LSCA grant, along with other small grants and fundraisers, provided for a “bare bones” remodeling, adding handicapped restrooms for the building and a small addition in front for a reading room. An open house was celebrated on April 15, 1988.
When the district moved into the remodeled jail and fire department space, Carole knew that space would be filled to capacity with no room for growth, so funds received from donations and fundraisers were saved for a new home someday.In 1989, the Friends of the Library had a concrete patio prepared under the front windows for the children’s summer reading programs and story time activities.
Carole Leads Library Development
In 1990, Carole was appointed by the State Board of Education to serve on the Colorado Council of Library Development, an advisory board. Two years later, she was elected Chair of the council by her peers and served two years. She was the only person to serve two years as the chair. She also wrote a grant to the LSCA and the Ballentine Foundation for an Oral History project.
In 1992, the library acquired more areas of the fire department’s workroom and began working with the Town to replace the heating system and remodel a couple of work areas. Another LSCA grant was written. A successful election allowed for the increase in the mill levy from 1.5 to 4 mills. The additional funding helped increase hours, programs, and the collection. Volume I of the Oral History: Our Past, The Portals to the Future was published. A grant to the Mabel Hughes Charitable Trust was awarded for the second volume of the Oral History Project. A grant to the El Pomar Foundation was also received, allowing the transfer of the bib records to the MARC format. New circulation and catalog software was also ordered. The Tabor amendment, which restricts government spending, was approved by voters in 1992. This amendment occurred at the same time of the mill levy increase, and the wording in the ballot issue was ambiguous. In 1997, the voters successfully “deBruced” the district, which removed some restrictions. The 5.5% Gallagher Amendment, which maintains property tax revenue, was also successfully approved.
In 1998, Carole wrote a small $500 planning grant to assist the Library District in planning. With the exception of $200,000, a new building was completed in 2004 along the Dolores River using grants, donations, and fundraising efforts. The capital lease ($200k) will be paid off in August of 2013. See our New Building page for more information.
“We are proof of what is possible when a community commits to making a project happen. It’s truly teamwork in action.” – Carole Arnold, Dolores Library Director
The incredible fundraising efforts caught some attention. Carole attended the Southwest Colorado Rural Philanthropy Day on September 9 through 11, 2010, which brought together nonprofit organizations from Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan Counties with funding agencies from the Front Range area. Carole noted in an article on the website for the Southwest Colorado Rural Philanthropy Day, “We serve as a model to other small towns, libraries, and other non-profits around the state for what can be accomplished by perseverance, vision, and community support.”
- El Pomar Foundation Excellence Award nominee (three times) Finalist 2011
- Library Journal Best Small Library in America: Special Mention, Dolores Public Library, Dolores, CO 2006
- Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence 2005
- Colorado Association of Libraries: Library of the Year 2004