Simla and its library easy to love

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Everyone should visit Simla and its library. I have lived in town for almost a year now. Since then, I have come to understand why a lot of folks here drive around with “I Love Simla” stickers on their bumpers. Simla is an icon of the rural American tradition.

This town is tiny by most people's standards. Born as a farming and manufacturing outpost along the now-extinct Rock Island Line railroad, this former 20th-century boomtown still provides many valuable services to the high plains towns between Colorado Springs and Limon. The library is one of those services.

Simlaites tell me they're proud of our library. I'd like to take credit for inspiring their compliments, but the people of this community have a way of getting together and doing great things for each other. For instance, a group of local moms formed our library by combining their private book collections back in the 1970s. Since then, our library has expanded from a volunteer's basement, to a former jail cell, to its relatively spacious room of 1,800 square feet in the Double El Conservation District building today.

Thanks to so many community-minded folks throughout Elbert County, our library joined with Elbert, Kiowa and Elizabeth to form a district in 2000. With district support and funding, we've steadily expanded our collection of books, movies, and music in a variety of formats. The Simla Library's free public-access computers and broadband wi-fi also make it a vital resource for the people and businesses of our town.

More locals have begun to use the district's eBook and audio book collections in the past few years. Check them out at elbertcountylibrary.org. Sometimes my staff and I miss the avid readers who get a Kindle or Nook to download free eBooks instead of coming in to see us. We also understand that it's our job to adapt to the needs of our patrons, so we're happy to help anyone learn new technology.

The Simla Library is a source of knowledge and entertainment for locals, but that's only part of the story. We're located on the edge of Elbert County, so we serve patrons from towns like Calhan, Ramah, and Ellicott. Ranchers from Lincoln and El Paso counties make use of the Simla branch because it's the only library for about 30 miles in every direction. Falcon and Limon have great libraries too, but a lot of people like the distinct and welcoming culture of our place.

Simla librarians encourage people from all around to come and enjoy programs like Story Time for Kids, The Garden Club, the Tea on Tuesdays craft group, and many other activities. Check out a book on Simla's rich local history and steep yourself in the culture of America's rural heritage by having a meal at a local restaurant. You might just come to understand why people love this town and its little library.

For more information, visit us at 504 Washington Ave., or call us at 719-541-2573.

Tim Miller is the branch manager in Simla. He moved to town, and now he can walk to work.