Libraries can change lives, and High Plains Library is no exception.
The High Plains Library District "connects their communities to information, inspiration, and entertainment for life." No longer just a place to get books or movies or use the free WIFI, our libraries are where you’ll find specialty items such as projectors, laptops, and telescopes to check out – and a full calendar of events for people of all ages and needs. They reach far beyond their library walls to enhance our lives and have become an important platform for dialogue around topics that are sensitive and uncomfortable to discuss, yet critical to the overall health of communities.
We are happy that our collaboration with High Plains is stronger than ever. The North Range AmeriCorps HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) program teams up with several High Plains libraries to offer multi-language story times for children. North Range clinicians have presented to library staff on topics such as compassion fatigue and de-escalation. Many High Plains staff have taken Mental Health First Aid and Question-Persuade Refer (QPR), a suicide prevention training. Our most recent collaboration was the November 4th High Plains annual Signature Author series event, "An Unconditional Love Story," featuring David Sheff, author of the best-seller Beautiful Boy, a memoir of his journey through his son’s addiction and recovery.
While planning the event, library staff recognized there was more to the subject than what would typically be shared during a book talk and signing with an author. No stranger to this topic—library staff have long interacted with patrons who have serious mental illness and substance use disorders—the event team realized they could create a community conversation that could help shift perspective and share important resources on addiction and mental illness.
High Plains reached out to North Range and other community experts for their support in filling in the knowledge gaps around this timely topic. Planning required extraordinary coordination.
"Because of the immediate response and willingness of North Range, we began working with local experts to help us understand the bigger picture and find a way to share those messages with the community," said Kelli Johnson, Community Relations and Marketing Manager for High Plains. "These amazing partnerships helped us create a two-part symposium focusing on addiction and recovery. We wanted to use this platform as a way to inform, inspire, and educate our community on the myths and facts surrounding addiction and recovery. It truly was a shining example of organizations coming together to ignite change."
This community symposium featured panels with experts and those with lived experience with addiction. North Rangers Shawna Cranmer, Respite Peer Specialist; Joe Carlisle, therapist, Assertive Community Treatment; Renee Schell, Frontier House Program Director; and Dr. Lesley Brooks, North Range board member, were featured on the symposium panels. Later that afternoon, author David Sheff spoke about the book, sharing how he and his family had struggled with his son’s illness and answering questions from the audience. Throughout the event, North Range and Frontier House colleagues as well as other community non-profits shared information about available treatment and support resources. An estimated 300 people attended the event.
Event Panel Speakers