Delta County Libraries has proven that it is possible not only to travel the world, but also to journey through time, without leaving Delta County. Interested parties need only trek as far as the Paonia Library on a Tuesday night, where local residents present slide shows and discussions about such dynamic places as Northern India, Cuba, Scotland and prehistoric Colorado. The series is Armchair Travel, and library staff member Laura Lee Yates has been bringing together world travelers and the community every winter for more than five years.
"I think of it as a great boon for those of us who don't get to travel to exotic places, particularly internationally," explains Yates. She initially started inviting speakers to the library out of her own desire to trek around the globe vicariously while working, and the program has grown. Now, the Paonia Community Room is almost always full on those nights, despite snow and cold, and there is even a group of Armchair Travel regulars who rarely miss a presentation.
Several Armchair Travel events have already taken place this winter, but a number of fascinating events are on the way, including next Tuesday night, Feb. 23, when archaeologist Glade Hadden will bring years of expertise about local archaeology to the library.
Hadden is currently the area archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management, Uncompahgre Field Office in Montrose. He explains that he has been involved in the field of archaeology for 25 years, starting as a seasonal "dig-bum" for the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management before becoming a private consultant. His resume lists his participation on numerous archaeology societies and councils. Hadden has been with the Bureau of Land Management since 1998, and has been the Uncompahgre Area archaeologist since 2006.
Hadden's passion for his field is clear in his statement, "Humans have lived in this area for millennia, the story of their lives and cultures reflected in the traces they leave behind."
The following Tuesday night, March 1, will be a return to the present as Chris Tschinkel shares his adventures in Tanzania in a presentation with the intriguing title of "High and Wild in Tanzania." Ed and Betsy Marston are scheduled to talk about their journey to Cuba on March 22. Yates sometimes adds more events as patrons approach her with the desire to share their own travels, and she is already looking for presenters for next winter.
Yates stresses that speakers need not be exceptional photographers; some of the most successful talks over the years have been people who share impactful experiences with only a few visuals. Because of the nature of Armchair Travel, events can be very different, reflecting not only unusual locations, but also something of the character of the presenters.
All Armchair Travel events will depart from the gate at 6 p.m. in the Paonia Library Community Room. Attendees are welcome to bring baggage, but library staff requests they limit themselves to one carry-on item apiece.
Delta's second annual "Kickoff to Christmas" takes place Saturday, Nov. 25. This event is sponsored by the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce and First Colorado National Bank.