Editor’s note: In 2011, for the fourth time in a row (and running), the Library Journal Index of Public Library Services, a public library rating system, designated Telluride’s Library a five-star institution. The Wilkinson Public Library ranks fifth in the nation among public libraries with annual budgets of $1 – 5 million, hence the name of library director Barb Brattin’s semi-regular column, “Five Stars.”

Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary

Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary (and Finn)

After 18 months of planning, travel, constant worry and a little bit of panic, the first national library conference to be held in Telluride is behind us. While the conversation continues on the Risk and Reward Conference website, we planners are back to our regular jobs a little stunned by the extraordinary success and a lot empowered by the positive influence the conference had on attendees.

I have always been blessed to work in organizations that are innovative and when things took a turn for the worse, I never wasted my time trying to convince dull administrators to change. I simply moved on. That strategy was a stress on my family, but it relieved the emotional stress of working in a toxic environment. When we entertained 400 librarians from across the country a few weeks ago, I was reminded that not all libraries are as progressive as the Wilkinson and the change we take for granted in Telluride presents an obstacle too large to overcome for many other similar institutions. We may have sent 400 librarians back to their jobs with renewed belief in their personal abilities to reinvent themselves and their profession, but a lot still stands in the way of progress for them.

I was delighted to have co-chaired the Abundant Community track at the Risk and Reward Conference. In my closing remarks to the 100 participants, I talked about a sense of place.

There is a reason we held this conference in Telluride, I said. There is something mystical about these mountains that makes the impossible possible. And in the words of a librarian from Colorado’s front range, Telluride is a place where any idea is accepted. The concept of abundant community is not lost on us. Our love for this community drives everything we do. It’s the reason why we offer yoga and zumba and pack 60 teenagers into a small space after school. It’s the reason we take on new roles like Family Literacy even when we face major budget cuts. It’s the reason why our conference attendees heard you gush about your library every time they met you.

I am so proud to have held this conference in Telluride. I am proud that you accept every idea we present in film, print, electronic media and community discussion with an open mind and an open heart.

I wish a Telluride mindset on the rest of the world so it too can have a library at the center of an abundant community.

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