A Garfield County resource seeks more people to serve | PostIndependent.com

A Garfield County resource seeks more people to serve

Library network in the county asks residents for input on how to become a stronger resource

Garfield County Librarian Mary Sweet hands Zach McCullough his new library card at the Rifle Branch Library.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Garfield County’s libraries are asking for community feedback through a series of focus groups they’ll be conducting over Zoom.

James Larson, the marketing and communications manager for the county’s libraries, said some might consider libraries an outdated resource, but they continue to be a place for education and information and want to be as accessible to the needs of community members as possible.

“We are a center of knowledge, information, knowledge creation. We are here for everyone in the community. … It’s fairly obvious the (Latino) community is neglected in a lot of senses. With other government’s entities. We’re basically here to promote reading and education no matter what it takes to get a person there,” Larson said.

Alex Garcia-Bernal is the education and events manager for the libraries in Garfield County, a position just created in January. Because the library and all the resources it offers is funded by sales tax, Garcia-Bernal said it’s something community members are already paying for whether they decide to use it or not.

“It’s something that is there already and we do have a passion for teaching them and letting them know this is yours already, just come and use it,” Garcia-Bernal said. “And that goes for all demographics because everybody spends money here. It doesn’t matter what language you speak or what your background is, everybody is living here.”

There was a focus group for Latino community members March 10 which had a real-time translator present, but Garcia-Bernal said he will be attending all other focus groups as well to help communicate if Spanish-speakers did not make the first one. Other target demographics are teenagers and elder citizens in the community. Larson said by finding out the ways people prefer to communicate the library can advertise its events and tweak current programming if the communication between residents and staff goes both ways.

“We just want to let them know we’re here to meet their information needs, their educational needs. … We’re trying to hear from as many groups in the community as we can,” Larson said.

The focus groups are running through March 19, but Garcia-Bernal and Larson were in agreement that feedback is welcome at any point and residents can contact the library with the phone number or email address listed on its website, or through its Facebook page which can be found here. The library is asking interested participants to fill out this survey in order to participate in one of the groups.

There are also monthly hour-long sessions open to the public, currently on Zoom but eventually will return to an in-person setting, called “Coffee with the Director.” During this time the Library Director, Brett Lear, reserves an hour with GarCo residents to chat, ask questions about how the library is interacting with the county as a whole, and share ideas they have for the services the library offers. Garcia-Bernal said he hopes residents can see the value in participating in these sessions as the library network tries to create a new form of communication as a reaction to what valley residents are looking for as far as informational and educational resources go.

“We want to have our ear to the ground seeing what the best methods, the best practices are. … That’s the purpose of these focus groups to find out how people are communicating,” Garcia-Bernal said.



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