Durango Reading Club Celebrated for Service

December 1, 2023

Durango Reading Club is being recognized for more than 140 years of serving Southwest Colorado. Examples of the group’s philanthropy include library fundraising, protecting land and cataloging local history. The Reading Club of Durango founded Durango’s original library in 1889 and has carried out its mission to guard tradition in contemporary ways ever since. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Sky Ute Casino and Happy Pappy’s Pizza & Wings

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One of Durango's oldest philanthropic groups is toasted as the 2023 Library Community Champion. The Durango Reading Group has supported many local causes over its 141-year history but perhaps the most prominent is literacy. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Sky Ute Casino and Happy Pappy's Pizza-N-Wings. I'm Connor Shreve. Durango Public Library Director Luke Alvey-Henderson says the club put Durango on the map.

They wrote to Andrew Carnegie, you know, petitioning that we be a Carnegie library. And Durango's first library was a Carnegie library. And the Carnegie building still stands downtown where it was our home for many, many years. And you know, so their work in getting that and donating pretty much our first collection is what made us the Durango Public Library.

Known historically as the Ladies Reading Club of Durango, the group was one of Colorado's early federated women's clubs and is tightly intertwined with Durango's history, supporting what is now Mesa Verde National Park and working with Fort Lewis College's Center for Southwestern Studies by donating various records from its past.

They also were very monumentally important in the preservation of local natural lands in the Four Corners region. And so that's something that, you know, a lot of them, that's their, you know, legacy because of course that's a legacy that will outlive all of us, the preservation of natural lands.

Alvey-Henderson says the group serves as a reminder of what people can accomplish with some organization and a mission. Durango Reading Club President Nancy Peake says it's always been about building community.

We think, along with the friends of the library and other club members here, that the library is a critical part of being a real community. It's a gathering place for people, all kinds of people, all economic positions.

She says the award is fitting as the first Library Community Champion Award in 2017 was given to a member of the Durango Reading Club. Alvey-Henderson credits the group with being a cornerstone of the community.

Reading and literacy and the support of local literacy is literally the key to raising families in our community that go on to get education and support. And that just wouldn't be possible. And you know, I wouldn't be standing here right now today without them. Who knows when or where Durango Public Library would've been without them.

Luckily, we can only wonder about that. You can keep up with events at the Durango Public Library online. For more information about this and other stories, visit durangolocal.news. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network.


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