Enjoy the great outdoors with Delta County Libraries

By Leah Morris


Enjoy the great outdoors with Delta County Libraries | Library, Paonia

Photo submitted Check Out Colorado State Parks backpacks are ready for adventure.

What do Colorado State Parks and Delta County Libraries have in common? Until this month, it was hard to imagine that they shared much more than some of the same visitors and a few guide books. However, a new program orchestrated by the Colorado State Library and Colorado State Parks and Wildlife has pulled the two organizations together in an exciting way that is sure to please county residents who appreciate the outdoors.

Still in its pilot stages, this program is called Check Out Colorado State Parks. Initially, eight libraries around the state will be given backpacks filled with materials relevant to local state parks, including items like binoculars, maps, guidebooks, brochures and more. And to make the program especially effective, each backpack will be equipped with a tag that will allow the user free entrance to any Colorado State Park.

Paonia Library was selected to participate in the pilot program, along with libraries in Rifle, Grand Junction, Denver, Aurora, Trinidad, Las Animas and Brighton. Two backpacks should be available at the Paonia Library within the week for patrons to borrow.

The Paonia backpacks will not be limited to Paonia residents; they will be available for anyone with a Delta County Libraries card to use. Once the program is off and running, district director Annette Choszczyk anticipates more opportunities throughout the county. "I'd like to see the backpacks in all of our libraries so that patrons throughout the county can easily take advantage of the park passes. This is a wonderful opportunity for residents to explore the natural resources in our own backyard."

There are a number of state parks within close range of Delta County residents, including Paonia State Park, Crawford State Park, and Sweitzer Lake State Park. These parks offer opportunities to camp, fish, boat, hike, picnic, swim and more. Their splendid settings make for excellent photographs and nature watching. With leaves changing color, this fall is the perfect time to plan a visit, but with a variety of activities for every season, visitors can enjoy state parks year-round.

Delta County Libraries offer numerous resources besides the backpacks that can improve a state park visit and encourage outdoor adventure. Among other things, patrons can take online photography classes, check out books on camping and boating, read outdoor magazines online and in print, check out GoPro cameras and iPads for recording their adventures, and use library computers to research trips and upload photos. The backpacks are a perfect extension of library resources.

"This program is a reflection of the incredible growth of library services over the years," says Choszczyk. Libraries have had books on their shelves for ages. More recently, DVDs and audiobooks became available, then downloadable books and music, then seeds and iPads and other technology. Now libraries are providing entire outdoor experiences for patrons to check out, helping to ensure that libraries remain exciting and viable community centers well into the future.