When thinking about the resources available at our public libraries, most people think about books. Many people associate libraries with having easy access to computers and the internet. Others might consider taking a class or attending an event. In the months to come, if all goes as planned, many Delta County residents might also consider checking out a piece of artwork to take home and hang on the wall. Delta County Libraries, together with its partner Elsewhere Studios, is introducing a new pilot program at the Paonia Library that will offer this somewhat unconventional, yet highly sought after resource to library patrons.
When asked about the ultimate goal for this project, Leah Morris, collections administrator for Delta County Libraries stated, "We want to provide a venue to display and promote local talent, in much the same way we enjoy bringing musicians, speakers and authors into the libraries. We strive to make a positive difference in Delta County by building on our existing resources. The goal is to test out the program over the next six months in Paonia and then, if we are successful, build the program throughout the district."
Considering this project really began with the grassroots efforts of local artists and a healthy, existing local interest, the prediction is that it will be a popular program. The foundation of the project was already in place before the libraries got involved. Willow Wingood, founder of Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, and Joanna Calabrese, former art librarian for Elsewhere Studios, originally approached the Paonia Library in early 2016. Their hope was to develop a partnership with the libraries to expand on the existing art lending library being operated out of The Hive in Paonia. The project originally launched out of Elsewhere Studios several years ago and had grown to inhabit multiple locations, including the Blue Sage Center for the Arts and The Hive, as it gained popularity.
Discussions began between Wingood, Calabrese, Paonia Library manager Jane Kelso, and assistant director of Delta County Libraries, LaDonna Gunn, shortly thereafter. A wide range of lending library models were reviewed and considered. Gunn gives a lot of credit to Calabrese's efforts early on. "Joanna Calabrese owns all the praise for researching different art lending library models and drafting our original plan. We have made modifications, but it gave us a place to start."
Following in Calabrese's footsteps as the current art librarian, Jessie Melison echoes the same enthusiasm for the project. "I love the fact that we are showcasing different artists and therefore so many different themes, genres and mediums. I feel like art brings people together. I would love for the community to know that this project is happening and that the grand opening will take place at the Paonia Library on Aug. 9 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
At the grand opening, patrons with valid library cards can begin to select artwork to take home by leaving a deposit of $30. Artwork can be checked out for up to three months and must be returned to the Paonia Library. At that time, the deposit is refundable. Maybe the most unique aspect of the program is that it will allow patrons to purchase artwork from the lending library with the artist receiving 100 percent of the sale. In that way, the Delta County Libraries can assist with connecting local artists with potential art lovers, hopefully resulting in sales and recognition for the artist. If the pilot program is successful after a six-month trial period, the program will be expanded to all of the libraries in Delta County.
Artists can get involved by contacting Jessie Melison at firstname.lastname@example.org and the public can get involved by attending the grand opening at the Paonia Library Aug. 9 at 5:30 p.m.