Telluride’s public library debuted with the arrival of founders Larry and Betty Wilkinson. In 1965 a bookmobile came into town once a week. Larry & Betty met with the town’s Fire Department to request space in the Quonset hut. Once the hut was ready for books the library was open two or three days a week, three or four hours a day. The budget consisted of donations to pay for the coal-fired heat. At that time the entire collection consisted of donations from local citizens or from other libraries discarded titles.
In 1974, Larry and Betty went to the San Miguel County Commissioners with a petition of 100 signatures to put the library on the ballot. With voter approval the first Library Board was appointed and Betty was hired as the first Library Director. Eventually the library outgrew its location and Larry went before the town council for permission to use the old stone jail. A grant from the National Park Service administrated by the State Historical Society was obtained and the jail was renovated. Betty and Larry hauled twenty tons of rock that summer in the back of their van, three or four rocks at a time. In 1976, the new library was dedicated at the site of the former town jail.
Once again the library ran out of room and a bond issue was introduced to add on to the old jail in 1984. This measure passed three to one. The present day 20,000 square foot library nearly wasn’t built. In 1997, every vote on the referendum to build the new building was essential. After a recount the referendum passed by a margin of only two votes. The new building opened in August 2000.
The Wilkinson Public Library is so named to honor the founders who nurtured the library through its inception and expanding vision. Larry served on the Library Board through the building of the new building and can still be seen roving the stacks.
In addition to housing a sizeable selection of books, videos, CDs, MP3 files and more, the library also hosts events and presentations year-round. Programs include: Books and Cooks, Films presented by the Mountainfilm Festival and Telluride Film Festival, special author signings, and community member presentations. Library users will also find convenient computer, printer and internet access including free wifi. Patrons can even check out one of five different meeting spaces. Check out their website at www.telluridelibrary.org for details and upcoming events.