RMGA Seminar:  Search and Research 

Denver Public Library

​Join Rocky Mountain Guide Association members for another practical skills seminar. Sessions will demonstrate the libraries latest digital and print search resources and then provide an opportunity to practice using them to research assigned tour topics for a small group presentation.

8:30     Registration (Gates Room, 5th Floor)

9:00     Tour
Western History/Genealogy Manager, Jim Kroll will introduce you to the resources and services found on the 5th floor of the Central Library.  In addition to explaining the resources you can consult for your class projects, Jim will briefly outline the history of the Department as well as its art and rare books, archival architectural collections, behind-the-scenes operations of the Library.

10:30   Break (Gates Room, 5th floor)

11:00   Computer Lab (4th floor)
Senior Reference Librarian, James Rogers, leads a computer session demonstrating and practicing the use of digital tools to search the DPL Digital Collections, the Western History website and on-line finding aids. Tour guides will learn about the online resources available to them, such as maps and photographs, as well as Denver neighborhood information and histories.

*Bring a laptop, smart phone or tablet for assistance and practice in accessing this information on your own device.

12:00   Box Lunch and Optional Session (Gates Room, 5th floor) 
Select from 1 of 4 box lunch options on your registration form.

Tech Tips
While munching, share and demonstrate on a tablet or smart phone your favorite applications and links for travel planning, commentary preparation and tour organization.

1:00     Search and Research (5th Floor Reference and Gates Room, 5th floor)
Practice using the resources you learned in the morning sessions.  Small groups will use search resources to research five preselected topics.  Topics have been preselected so that library staff can pull resources in advance to make them available for this session. Library staff will be available to give individual help with resources.

2:15     Regroup for Presentation Planning (Gates Room, 5th floor)

2:45     Break (Gates Room, 5th Floor)

3:00     Presentations (Gates Room 5th floor)
Using a provided template, each small group will present fascinating facts, quotable quotations and digital or print visuals to make their challenging topic come “alive”.  The template will then be submitted and the information will be compiled and distributed for future use.​

Seminar Review

RMGA Seminar November 2, 2013


Denver Public Library (DPL)


Subject – What’s available at DPL and how to use the technology available

Organizer: Norma Bovee


We met on the 5th floor of DPL in the Gates Room, a meeting room with a fantastic view up and down Broadway.  Our main contact was Jim Kroll, who has been with DPL since 1979.  Jim has a master’s degree in library science and also a master’s in American history.

Jim started us off on the 7th floor of the library in Western History genealogy in the special collections storage area.  DPL is one of twelve libraries, and the only public library, in the USA with significant collections of Western History.  There are four floors of Western History information at DPL though only the 5th floor is open to the public.  In the “Special Collections” nothing gets checked out, you must work with a librarian to access this material.  DPL has a small rare books collection as well as records from such organizations as the Nature Conservancy, National Parks Conservations Society and others that are similar.  The 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act will be in 2014.  In the 1950s and 1960s Arthur Carhart and John Eastlick developed interest in Western views and expanses.

DPL also has historic Denver papers and covers most of western USA in their Western History collection.  Other libraries also have Colorado history collections.  Willa Cather, well-known author, came to DPL in the 1920s and told the city librarians that all the history of this area was being disseminated east and west of Colorado and that Colorado would lose its heritage if they didn’t try to preserve it.  DPL also has Frederick Douglas’ fine print collection and hand made books.  The Native American collection is at the Denver Art Museum (DAM).

The genealogy section, which covers the entire US, was started in 1912, because a number of patriotic organizations wanted to research their histories.  In the 1920s this information was expanded to include family, county and municipal records.  There is also much information on genealogy of the eastern half of the US s well as the western half.  The specialist in this area is James Jeffery.  Another specialist, Bruce Hanson, is an expert on actual building and neighborhood histories.  The genealogy section has open shelves and any of the information can be used.

The 10th Mountain Division information is located at DPL.  These skier/soldiers trained in Colorado and many returned here after WWII.  In the 1980s they asked DPL to be the repository for their papers.  History Colorado got their artifacts (uniforms, skis, etc.).

The Western History collections encompasses 260,000 books, periodicals, and manuscripts as well as 600,000 photos (100,000 of which are digitized).  The cost to digitize one photo is between $25 and $35.  From the 1970s – 1996, Augie Mastroguisseppe (sp) was a photo archivist and railroad enthusiast who started digitizing photos.  History Colorado has 20,000 of their photos on the DPL website.  Over the past ten years, DPL has switched to selling digitized files rather than prints.

The collection also has over 8,000 maps and 500,000 pieces of art.  One of the pieces of art is a Bierstadt painting bought for $5,000 and now valued at several million dollars.  This piece is on loan to the DAM where security and preservation capabilities are better.  DPL has also done a digitized history of Denver.  It cost $100,000 to migrate to a digital management system.  They also have a “dark” archive with original documents.  There are three such files in the Western Hemisphere – one in the UK, one in Brazil and one in Ohio.

DPL has every issue of the Rocky Mountain News (RMN) from 1859 – 2009 when it ceased publication.  They also have RMN clipping files and more than 300,000 photos.  DPL owns the copyright and also has digital files from the 1990s through the end of RMN.

DPL has records of significant architects and for significant buildings – mostly drawings and 50% drawings.  There are two librarians on duty at all times in the building history area.

Information on the State Capitol (building and inhabitants) is in the Colorado State Archives (government papers must go there by law).  The court papers are housed at 13th and Sherman streets.  History Colorado takes personal papers from Colorado residents (such as Baby Doe Tabor).  There are 8 archivists on staff and 30 volunteers.  Each bequest is catalogued and nothing is allowed to be used that might have a Social Security number or any personal checks – i.e., anything that is too personal is not kept.  There are files regarding the internal surveillance of the Denver Police Department that are sealed for 50 years.  This is because names of Latino and Russian gangs, etc. are noted in these files.

The manuscript room has a camera and a proctor.  You cannot take photos of manuscripts because they are too fragile.  Some photos require glove handling.  They do allow laptops in the manuscript room and they have free lockers for your bags, jackets, etc.  Most things are not available for you to take photos, you must buy a copy.  Some articles do require an appointment to view and you may only be able to view, someone else will turn the pages – because of the value and fragility of the item.

After Jim Kroll’s extensive tour, we returned to the Gates Room on the 5th floor for coffee and snacks. 

We then went to the computer lab where James Rogers showed us how to research items on the DPL website.  You can cross-reference items electronically now.  James also told us about the microfilm collection w/card file index that is located near the reference desk.  There are also readers/scanners available near the reference desk where you can e-mail items to yourself without having to print a copy.  James gave us a quick shortcut to get into the DPL information – start with denverlibrary.org and then put history of digital in front of that and it will allow you to access information more quickly.

James told us that to use the general index for Colorado and the West (mostly Denver and Colorado information) we would be smart to start with a librarian.  He also told us that we can access the catalogue by computer from home and that there is a “controlled” vocabulary used in finding information.  We were told to go on “Polaris” and type in the subject.  Then, from the results, choose one and type in words that will lead you to the next step.  Other options are to use the newspaper clipping file, subject card catalogue, photos file, or manuscript (which is always original material).  To look for a quote – possibly you would start with the manuscript file and remember to notice the authenticity of a source.  For instance, Denver High School became East High and was originally at 20th and Arapahoe. 

Our research centered on five areas:  General James W. Denver, Elvalle (San Luis Valley), Barnum neighborhood (P.T. Barnum), Caroline Bancroft and Curtis Street.  Jim Kroll had books, photos, newspaper clippings as well as artwork for us to use in our research on these topics.  Those research results are attached to this report. 

We adjourned around 3:30 and if you weren’t there, you missed an educational and informative day!

Bravo Norma!!

-- Nancy Brueggeman