After over a year of being closed to the public, Denver Public Library’s Smiley Branch Library looks forward to opening its doors again in late April. While access will initially be in a limited capacity due to COVID-19 safety measures, Smiley will become publicly accessible soon, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. Curbside pickup will continue and be available Tuesdays through Fridays from 10am to 6pm and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. In person programming remains suspended until further notice.
Smiley’s exact opening date wasn’t set by the time this issue went to print due to a few more minor construction-related projects, but library officials are optimistic about opening by the end of the month. Keep an eye on denverlibrary.org for the latest information and an opening date as soon as it is available.
Smiley closed in mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the library remained closed throughout the remainder of the year as work began on the historic building’s much anticipated renovation. While a number of finishing touches were still going on both inside and outside of the building, Smiley’s staff came back in January of 2021 to start offering curbside pickup to library customers.
A great deal of work went into Smiley’s renovation with careful attention paid to updating the space while maintaining the 102 year old building’s charm. Smiley’s longtime customers will be glad to see the built-in wood shelving upstairs has been carefully refinished, the large, curved ceiling has been repaired and freshly painted, and the fireplace has new comfortable and cozy seating nearby. A custom service desk that matches the library’s existing woodwork welcomes visitors as they walk in, rather than the previous desk that faced away from the entrance. The shelving and computing areas have been reconfigured, but the same amount of books, movies, and other materials remain in Smiley’s heavily circulating collection.
Downstairs, customers will notice the biggest changes to Smiley’s interior. The community room, where programs and storytime are hosted, had a major facelift – new paint, carpeting, lighting, and storage accommodate visitors as well as staff needs. A new projector and audio visual system will make hosting meetings and events simple, while a community sink offers more flexibility for crafts, cooking classes, and other programs. The public restrooms have been completely updated, and are now significantly cleaner, safer, and more accessible. Perhaps best of all, a new small study room gives customers a space to work quietly while the larger community room is occupied.
On the outside of Smiley, the beautiful brickwork and front facade has been tended to and repaired. The front lawn and path to the building’s ADA ramp has been updated, making it more obvious and safer to use. An internal book drop located on the side of the library allows customers to drop off returns any time of day, and a fun new public art piece by local artist Maureen Hearty welcomes visitors from both the parking lot as well as 46th Avenue.
Smiley will offer public access initially to the building’s upstairs as well as the restrooms, allowing customers to access the collection and computers. Furniture will be reconfigured to adhere to social distancing guidelines, masks will be required, and there will be an occupancy limit in place.
For more information on visiting Smiley Branch Library and other Denver Public LIbrary locations in person, please visit www.denverlibrary.org/COVID-19, and for more information on Smiley, please visit www.denverlibrary.org/content/smiley-branch-library.
Hannah Evans is the senior librarian at Smiley Library