Take a look beyond the books

April E. Clark
Arts and Entertainment Contributor
Jill Cohn performs at the Rifle Branch Library.
Emily Hisel / Garfield Public Libraries |

GARFIELD COUNTY — Branches of the Garfield County Libraries are thinking outside of the book this fall.

“We offer several arts and cultural offerings — some weekly or monthly and some one-time events,” said Kelsy Been, grant coordinator for Garfield County Libraries.

Not only do the six libraries house the largest collection of reading material in the county, they are also home to myriad events spanning the creative spectrum.

“In general, we are doing a lot of exciting programming at the library,” Been said.

Ukulele lessons, classic film screenings, and writer’s groups are a few examples of how the county’s libraries are appealing to a diverse audience. The month of September is heavily scheduled with community-focused cultural offerings.

To start the month, the Rifle Branch Library hosts an “Art in the Stacks” artist’s reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, for George Cutting III. The Silt resident has been creating photographic art for nearly four decades.

“The library is proud to feature a collection of George’s work that was inspired by his recent trip to Alaska,” Been said.

Ukulele nights for beginners to experts age 9 and older begin at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, at the Carbondale Branch Library. Been said the ukulele collective features short lessons, sing-alongs and jam sessions, meeting on the first and third Mondays of every month.

“Non-ukers are welcome to sit in,” she said. “There will be a couple of extra ukuleles and rhythm instruments to try out.”

Three of the county’s library branches are bringing music to the masses in September by hosting Seattle singer-songwriter Jill Cohn. A fan of Colorado, specifically the Roaring Fork Valley, Cohn played a live show in Carbondale in May.

“I think Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the world — those mountains on the Western Slope just call me,” she said. “There is something about the landscape in combination with the people that keeps drawing me back to Colorado. From the first time I played in your area, my music connected with the folks that were at the shows, and it seemed as if there was a certain understanding between my music and the people that were listening.”

Cohn often plays libraries and bookstores and said she loves that families bring their children to these community events. Cohn said she has great memories of going to the library as a child.

“The library always seemed like a great place to go as it was quite yet full of things to read and look at,” she said. “But it’s also a really nice listening environment, and you get a very nice cross section of people from all walks of life and ages.”

Cohn’s sound has been likened to power-house vocalists Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan.

“I’ve been influenced by Joni Mitchell, EmmyLou Harris, and many other songwriter-singers over the years, and I think that very literate approach to songwriting is what I’m most attracted to,” she said. “I usually write about common life experiences and think all of us humans go through so many similar feelings when going through our lives. If I can get those universal things we share into a song, then I think most ages can relate to it. There’s always something to write about and share with my audience.”

Cohn plays three free shows at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at the Carbondale Branch Library, 320 Sopris Ave.; Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Parachute Branch, 244 Grand Valley Way; and Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Rifle Branch, 207 East Ave.

In October, the Glenwood Springs Branch Library will be one of 81 libraries chosen to host a six-week program through America’s Music, a project of the Tribeca Film Institute, along with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music. The series, titled “America’s Music: A Film History of our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway,” begins Wednesday, Oct. 16, and highlights American music from the 20th century and its influence on modern culture through documentary films and scholarly discussions.

“This program has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor,” Been said. “America’s Music programming includes hip-hop lessons for kids and teens, swing and ballroom dance lessons for adults, and a Chautauqua program.”

Also in October, the Glenwood Springs Branch brings back its monthly adult Scrabble Night. Game players of all levels meet the first Tuesday of every month for word game mastery. Scrabble boards, scoring materials, and dictionaries are provided.

The Glenwood Springs Branch is in the middle of its highly anticipated move to 815 Cooper Ave. and will christen its new 14,000-square-foot home with a grand opening celebration at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14. The public is welcome to attend the festivities. From books to DVDs, the new building will house almost 4,500 new library items.

For more information about Garfield County Libraries, visit

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