Colorado Public Libraries–Historical Data

Since the earliest days, even before the territory achieved statehood, Colorado residents have supported libraries. In 1860 the Denver City and Auraria Reading Room was formed. On November 6, 1861 the first Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Colorado established the Territorial Library, which later became the State Library. By 1890 Colorado had 13 public libraries and by 1920, 41 more public libraries had been established. Today Colorado has 115 public library jurisdictions, two-thirds of which were founded between 1890 and 1930. Most of the state’s public libraries were started by private groups or individuals. Only after they were started did governments offer financial support to the libraries.

Colorado’s public libraries have grown steadily since their beginnings. Table 1 (see full report) shows historical data on the state’s public libraries. The table shows the state population, number of books held by public libraries, circulation, and operating expenditures since 1920. The years of the Great Depression and World War II are the only years the state did not see steady growth in library use and support.

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POPULAR RESOURCES

  • Public Library Statistics & Profiles
    Dive into annual statistics from the Colorado Public Library Annual Report using our interactive tool, results tailored to trustees, and state totals and averages.
  • School Library Impact Studies
    School libraries have a profound impact on student achievement. Explore studies about this topic by LRS and other researchers in our comprehensive guide.
  • Fast Fact Reports
    Looking for a quick rundown of library research? Check out our Fast Facts, which highlight research and statistics about various library topics.

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