Monday, March 8, 2010

A Library for Globeville

A public library was treasured by the immigrants who settled Globeville, as books and education were only available to the wealthy in eastern Europe. In the early 1900s, the community was served by a bookmobile from the Denver Public Library.
In 1921, the neighborhood would finally have a permanent branch library in the Globeville Community Center, constructed on the southeast corner of East 45th Avenue and Grant Street. Built through the efforts of the William P. McPhee family and the Denver Real Estate Exchange, the center also had an auditorium for community meetings, dances, and social functions. There was also a branch of the University of Colorado Extension and two part-time social workers who helped residents with housing, citizenship and family counseling. The building is still in use today as the Globeville Recreation Center.
During the Depression, the city of Denver struggled with diminishing funds and reduced the hours of the city’s libraries to two nights and one day a week. It closed the Globeville branch completely on January 3, 1934, posting a notice on the door. Immediately, Lad Felix and Adolph Anzich of the Globeville Voters Taxpayers Association organized the neighborhood, gathering signatures on petitions and demanding a meeting with the library’s board. At the meeting, Felix and Anzich explained that the library was used by foreign-born children and adults, and “played a great part in Americanizing residents.” The men pointed out that Globeville citizens paid a higher percentage of taxes than other areas of the city and were not receiving the same city services. The Rocky Mountain News kept the cause in the spotlight and the library was reopened on February 4, 1935. The News gladly proclaimed, “Globeville Branch Library Is Swamped as It Reopens.”
In 1950, the city again closed the neighborhood’s library, and, in 1952 the branch in nearby Elyria was closed as well. It would be more than forty years before the neighborhoods of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea would have a library in their community.
The Valdez-Perry Branch Library opened at 47th and Vine March 18, 1996. Part of a major capital improvement project that began in 1990 when Denver voters approved $91.6 million in bond money, the library features a bilingual staff, meeting rooms, a large collection of children’s books, audio books, videos and magazines. There are computers, internet access and instruction in the use of both. The building is slated for improvements during 2010.
Top two photos Denver Public Library, bottom photo Mary Lou Egan

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