Bent County property owners pay a 1.56 mill levy each year in support of the Las Animas/Bent County Library. The library, which is governed by a board whose members are appointed by the Las Animas City Council and the Bent County Board of Commissioners, has a yearly budget of approximately $140,000.
Current board members are Marian Collins, president; Susan Waring, vice president; Charmaine Tripp, treasurer; Joyce Brooks, secretary; and Barb Shively.
Karen Leck has been the director of the library since December 2017, during which time she has implemented several new programs and activities. Every Monday is Adult Game Day; a Breakfast Club meets for Coffee and Conversation Tuesdays through Fridays at 9 a.m.; each Thursday, local churches provide free soup at 12 p.m. in the conference room; movies are shown Fridays at 12 p.m.; there is story time on Saturdays; and the Book Club meets the last Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m.
Under Leck’s direction, the library has become active in the community, having a food booth during Santa Fe Trail Days, partnering with the museum to host annual events in the Museum’s Grand Hall, and providing a donation shelf for Helping Hands.
The library provides more than just books and CDs for patrons. Some of the library services are copies (black and white for 15 cents per page and color copies at 50 cents each), outgoing faxes ($1 a page), incoming faxes (15 cents a page), laminating service (8 1/2 by 11 for $1 each), and disk cleaning ($1 per disk).
Several computers are available for public use, and a librarian will give computer help and tutoring, if requested. Free Wi-Fi is also available at the library.
In 2018, 19,159 items were borrowed: this included 4,323 books, 7,314 DVDs, and 135 E-books.
Volunteers donated 533 hours, and 6,796 individuals used the computers. Library cards were issued to 171 new patrons, 2,235 people attended the various programs throughout the year and the Summer Reading Program attracted 158 children.
The community has been fortunate to have library services since 1876. One of the earlier locations of the library was in the balcony room of the M.E.Cooke drugstore.
In the 1930s and 40s, the library was located on the second floor of a building that housed a hardware store, shoe repair shop and drugstore, as well as other businesses on the first floor. That building was located where the First National Bank building is now, in the 500 block of Bent Avenue (U.S. 50).
In 1953, the library was relocated to the first floor of a building in the alley (Prowers Court) behind City Hall.
The mill levy was certified in 1960 and in 1982, the city library became a district library.
The Las Animas/Bent County library has been in its current location, the 300 block of Fifth Street, since 1986 and is open six days a week.
The library board meets the second Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the library conference room; meetings are open to the public.