Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary


Editor’s note: Year after year, the Library Journal Index of Public Library Services, a public library rating system, has designated Telluride’s Library a five-star institution. TheWilkinson 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 is also on the CCAASE board. When Michael Martelon, head of the Telluride Tourism Board, attended a recent meeting, where she thanked him for his support of the Risk & Reward Conference.

“Michael seemed so proud and excited, we want to continue hosting the conference next year,” Barb explained. “I took his comments to heart and wrote up an article to let people know  we at the library are committed to supporting the local economy in our own way. Here it is.”

Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary

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

The Wilkinson Public Library was delighted to be part of an effort that brought 400 librarians, vendors and educators to Telluride this past September for the Risk and Reward Conference. Just as exciting was the Tourism Board’s conclusion that the event contributed nearly $600,000 to the regional economy during shoulder season. That’s a number we are proud of.

At first it may seem strange that a public library could play a role in the local economy, but any smart director knows that without a strong tourism base, communities like Telluride would not continue to enjoy the level of funding we have come to expect and we would be hard pressed to provide the extraordinary amenities residents enjoy. The Wilkinson keeps “local” top of mind. We buy local whenever possible to recycle your tax dollars back into the local economy. We provide 32 full- and part-time jobs with wages and benefits that allow smart young professionals to work and live in the region. Our financial policies encourage investment in local banks.

Back in the Chicago suburbs, I often met people who made decisions about where to live based on the quality of the local library. I have come to learn that a great number of people choose a new community based on its schools and libraries. For local realtors wanting to convince clients to choose Telluride over other ski resorts, the Wilkinson Public Library offers unmatched quality that should add to their marketing pitch. According to Library Journal, Wilkinson is the only five-star resort library in Colorado. It ranks as the busiest library per capita in the state. And I believe I am not exaggerating when I say ours is the most beloved public library in America.

When riding the gondola or just walking around town, I often hear locals of all ages recommending “the Wilkinson” as a tourist stop, where kids can chill out and anyone can find Internet access, relax with a good book, or attend a program. I am thrilled our extraordinary library has such a positive impact on our sense of community. And I’m proud to say that impact extends beyond the walls of our building, drawing tourism to the region and bringing families back year after year to enjoy the Wilkinson’s resources. Telluride’s guests get to see what you see: a dedicated, friendly staff eager to help you connect with your passion. And then they support the community that supports us.

I would call that a win-win.


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