Program Spotlight: High Plains Library District’s People & Places in Colorado History

We’ve asked libraries across Colorado to submit program they’ve run in the last year that they’re proud of and they want the rest of us to see and celebrate. Sharing stories in books is great… but what about our stories? The stories of the ways our libraries bring the community together, enrich the lives of our neighbors, and serve the people who live and work in our cities and towns.

Lisa Varra, Librarian at the Erie Community Library of the High Plains Library District, answered our call and we’re excited to let them tell you about High Plains Library District’s  People & Places: Colorado History Series in their own words.

three flyers for colorado history series event at library

Library Name: High Plains Library District

City/ Town: Greeley, CO

Program Name: People & Places: Colorado History Series

Date/ Date Range of Program: November 16, 2023 was the last day of the 2023 series, but the series will return from March to May 2024

Intended Audience: All ages


The People and Places in Colorado History Series features presenters who speak to events that have occurred in Colorado, particularly in the Weld County area or nearby region, and highlights the people who lived there and then, the settings where they took place, and artifacts including photographs and materials produced at that time. It is an in-person program held at the Erie Community Library. I am the organizer and facilitator, the Erie Historical Society pays 50% of the presenter fees.

The final 2023 program, “Dearfield: Preserving the Past” was presented by William “Bill” Garcia who spoke about the history of Dearfield, an agricultural colony established for Black Coloradans in 1910. Now “a ghost town,” the history of Dearfield is being preserved by the Black American West Museum and other groups in the effort to stave off erasure. Other 2023 programs included “Colorado Through the Seasons,” “Cache La Poudre: People, Gunpowder, and the River,” and “Historic Railroads of Colorado.”

This series of programs took place on Thursdays in August-November 2023. (The 2024 series runs from March to May. Check the calendar of events here: )

Editor’s note: This section features additional writing by the editor of this CVL series.

How did you come up with the idea for this program?

Partnership with the Erie Historical Society and patron requests for the series to be continued after COVID.

What partners (if any) did you work with in developing or implementing this program?

Erie Historical Society

What about this program did you find successful? How did you measure the success of this program?

It is a popular program. I love doing it and the response is always positive from patrons.


Lisa has permitted us to share their contact information so that anyone interested in reaching out to them about their program can do so. It is an incredibly generous offer of which you are invited to avail yourself if you’re inspired by their work and want to celebrate them or if you have questions about ways you can follow their lead.

To reach Lisa Varra, email them at


Colorado State Library (and the readers of this point as well, no doubt) understands how time consuming, emotionally draining, costly (in so many ways), and challenging it can be to run a program or project. Sometimes they fail gloriously… sometimes they fail with barely a whisper. It can be hard to recover from that. You’ve worked so hard!… and it just didn’t work out. Be gentle with yourself. Self-reflect. Pick up the pieces. And then get to the next thing. It’ll be worth it.

For all those other times, be sure to celebrate. Brag about it! Feel good about yourself, the team that collaborated on your work, and the community members who participated with it. Celebrate your hard work and the value that you contribute to your community.

Tell us the story of your program just like this library did here. Submit your library’s program for a Program Spotlight featured here and shared as far as Colorado State Library news reaches.

Cristy Moran