(PUEBLO, Colo.) — Pueblo Rawlings Public Library brings the community more than just books. Recent building renovations brought new technology, an interactive museum, a coffee shop, and meeting rooms to the library.

“We added additional conference spaces because the library really sees itself as a community hub,” said Nick Potter, Director of Community Relations and Development for the Pueblo City-County Library District. “And so being able to have this conference space allows our community to have nonprofit board meetings, homeowner’s association meetings, and just different kind of meetings of the mind where they can have a free space to be able to come together and have those conversations.”

Interactive museum on the first floor of Pueblo Rawlings Public Library

According to Potter, one of the goals of the renovation was better access to the building.

“So we created a mobility plaza that added better parking, better access to the front door because as a public library, that’s a huge thing that we really want to make sure that we’re meeting our community’s needs,” said Potter.

One new technology improvement includes laptop vending machines which you can check out by scanning your library card.

“We have a really cool thing called laptop vending machines,” said Potter. “So instead of having to sit at a hard desktop, you can actually go to a machine, scan your card, and then out pops a laptop and then you can take it [mobile] throughout any area in the library to be able to do whatever you need to.”

Potter expressed the importance of providing internet access to Pueblo community members.

“So having a public library in this community is hugely important,” said Potter. “Pueblo is one of the least connected communities in Colorado. And when I say least connected, I mean by Internet. So we do not compare at all to Denver, to the more affluent northern counties, because we just… there isn’t the money down here.”

Aside from new technology, the library added interactive equipment in the children’s area, which encourages children to build their own plot for a story.

“Really, everything we did with a lot of purpose to make sure that the library, being the place where you access information, is something that we really try to give people tools on having information literacy,” said Potter.

The interactive children zone at Pueblo Rawlings Public Library.

Sarah Fassiotto and her family spent time Thursday afternoon in the children’s zone.

“It’s been a really good place for us to come and let the girls get their energy out and not destroy the house,” said Fassiotto. “So they get to play with the [stuffed] animals and check out books, and they think it’s really fun.”

With many new improvements to the library, Potter shared that the library still is a place to come to for checking out books and working.

“It’s a place to study and we really have to bridge both of those things,” said Potter. “So the library is still a place of books and quiet study and research. However, it’s increasingly becoming something more – it’s becoming this community hub for people to be able to come together, access information, meet together as a community to create their own dialog.”

The Rawlings Library pays homage to the original Pueblo library, which dates back to 1902.

“There’s actually the original cornerstone upstairs,” said Potter. “And I think that it shows that foundation you know, to make it a pun, but it really shows that foundation of what we are in the community. We’re this vital hub for our community, and we serve all walks of life.”

When reflecting on the importance of the library, Potter shared that it is a circle of life of children returning back to the library as adults.

“Kids come in here because it does spark their imagination. It does connect them to resources that they may not have at home so they can grow up to be adults that come back to the library and give back to their community,” said Potter. “They learn more things. They’re a lifelong learner, and they bring more kids back in here to kind of create that community sense, to create that kind of circle of life.”