Smiley Branch Library Prepares for Upcoming Renovation

Throughout the city, Denver Public Library locations have expanded virtual services and programming during the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting closures. 

Smiley Library
Photos by Hannah Evans

For one of Northwest Denver’s libraries, the Smiley Branch, reopening to the public will be on a somewhat different timeline than the community’s other locations – this 102 year-old building is busy preparing for a much needed and long anticipated renovation. Scheduled to begin in May, the renovation’s construction and its resulting closure time will last at least six months.

In November of 2017, Denver voters approved measure 2E, also known as the Elevate Denver Bond Program. Along with other projects such as an expansion to Denver Health and necessary transportation updates, the ten year general obligation bond provides funding for Denver Public Library to renovate its Central Library and ten locations around the city, including Smiley.

Located in Berkeley Park at 46th and Utica, this charming neighborhood Carnegie library opened in 1918. Smiley Branch Library is small but mighty. At just under five thousand square feet total, the main floor contains a collection with consistently high circulation numbers, while the cozy basement hosts a wide variety of programming and much-loved story times. Smiley’s last renovation was in 1992, and since that time this well-frequented building has developed many needs in order to keep up with its growing community.

Updates to the ramp entrance and public restrooms will address accessibility issues, while restorations and repairs will help preserve this Denver Historic Landmark’s protected façade. Upgrades to the basement community room will provide a better space for the area’s many uses, which include studying, craft nights, film screenings, children’s programming, and everything else in between. The upstairs will maintain its collection size and iconic built-in shelving while reconfiguring the layout to provide comfortable and more functional seating as well as computer space. The Denver Public Library is working closely with Studiotrope Design Collective to ensure that this project addresses Smiley’s needed updates while respecting and maintaining the library’s unique and much appreciated historic character.

Smiley closed to the public due to the COVID-19 outbreak on March 13th. While the library branch already planned to pack up for renovations in May, it became clear as time went on and the pandemic-related closures continued that Smiley would unfortunately not be able to reopen before its scheduled renovation.

Smiley’s staff will temporarily relocate to other Denver Public Library locations as construction is completed, and they plan to return once the branch reopens. The one exception is Dana Richardson, Smiley’s long standing librarian, who is retiring. Dana has been at Smiley since1994 and is best known for his popular banjo and ukulele-filled story times. Northwest Denver has enjoyed Dana’s warm welcomes, friendly chats, and fun-filled story times for many years. At Smiley, we are sad to see Dana go, but are excited to wish him all the best as he enjoys playing music, caring for his much-loved dogs and cats, and spending his time doing whatever he wants! Thank you, Dana, for all of your hard work and dedication to Smiley and its community.



  1. Oh, how I will miss Dana Richardson! He dug my car out of the snow once. It was always a delight to go in at story time and hear him having such fun bringing joy to his little audience.

  2. Dana…..So sad to see you go without a “proper” farewell gathering!— Complete with songs, jokes and of course, the ukulele. Your gifts of kindness, humor, music and storytelling to the children are irreplaceable and will live in their hearts. Always looked forward to a chat with you, so will dearly miss this connection at good ol’ Smiley.

    Wishing you a grand retirement, although “retire” doesn’t seem to fit your lively, creative, and most curious spirit. I have a feeling you have alot of “life” left in you! Enjoy it–Sing and Play-on.

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