Oak Creek Library will move to new home on Main Street this fall

The South Routt Library District is hoping to close on the Let's Dance building at 117 E. Main St. in Oak Creek by mid-July. The library will use the ground floor and lease six of the seven upstairs offices to help cover operational expenses. Plans are for the library to move to its new location in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Debbie Curtis)

The Oak Creek Library, which has been somewhat hidden inside the Oak Creek Community Center for 35 years, will be moving to a more prominent location on Main Street in the fall.

“I think it’ll definitely give us more of a presence being on Main Street,” said Debbie Curtis, library manager. “I’ve talked to the business people, and they think it’s going to be a win-win for them and for us.”

Curtis said the South Routt Library District board has reached a deal to purchase the Let’s Dance building at 117 E. Main St. and is expected to close in early July. The library plans to move into the first floor of the building in the fall and will continue to lease the offices upstairs to help cover some of the library’s operating costs. She said the move was necessary because the library has outgrown the space it leases inside the community center at 227 Dodge St.

“It’s been nice to be here, but we’re kind of tucked away on Dodge Street, and a lot of people don’t even know we’re here,” Curtis said. “I think we’ll have more of a presence in this space. We’ll have more programming, and it will be a great place for people to come hang out.”

Janet Panabaker, a member of the South Routt Library District board, said the purchase of the building fulfills a longtime goal of providing the Oak Creek Library with a permanent home. The library currently leases the space in the community center for $12,000 per year.

Curtis said the library wanted to move in the late 1990s, but the referendum to build a new library failed by a handful of votes. She said the library board started saving money at that point, and in the past eight years, it has stepped up its efforts to raise more than $300,000 to purchase the Main Street location and build some reserves for operating costs.

The funds to operate the library come from a South Routt Library District mill levy. Curtis said revenue from the tax has decreased by $40,000 since 2012 due to the decline of area coal mining operations.

The ground floor of the Oak Creek Community Center at 227 Dodge St. is the current home of the Oak Creek Library. Members of the South Routt Library District board are in the process of closing on the purchase of the Let's Dance building located at 117 East Main St. as a new permanent location for the local library. (Photo courtesy of Debbie Curtis)

In May, the library district board was notified it would receive a $172,500 Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Grant from the Department of Local Affairs that will cover half of the purchase price of the Let’s Dance building, with the rest coming from money the district saved to purchase the building.

“So we had saved over 20 years or so … to buy that building,” Panabaker said. “But now, we have a grant for half of the purchase price, so that’s really exciting for us.”

The move not only means the library will be located in a more visible location, but Panabaker believes it also will make the library a more integral part of the community.

She is also excited about the formation of South Routt Library Friends, a 501(c)3 that held its first organizational meeting a week and a half ago at Decker Park in Oak Creek. The group will work to support the libraries in Oak Creek and Yampa.

In addition, the South Routt Library District has secured grants to add to its programming, including one from the American Libraries Association that will be used to restart the story time program this fall.

“It’s super exciting,” Curtis said. “We’re going to have a big open house in September when we get everything moved into the new building. We couldn’t be happier with the way everything has just fallen in place perfectly.”

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