This post was originally published on Jan 11 2012.

Irene Romsa, Outreach Services Manager for Poudre River Public Library District

Meet Irene Romsa, the Outreach Services Manager for the Poudre River Public Library District in Fort Collins, Colorado.  In June 2011, she collaborated with Rafael Lopez, an award-winning children’s book illustrator of such titles as Book Fiesta! and My Name is Celia, to create the Fort Collins Community Mural.

The mural itself– both the design, and the community participation required to turn plans into reality– was inspired by the 2011 Summer Reading Program theme, “One World, Many Stories” as well as Poudre River’s commitment to community engagement, especially with the area’s Latino and Spanish-speaking community.

In order to paint the mural on a 60″ wall of a parking structure, Irene and the folks at Poudre River Library organized a community art program, so that hundreds of kids could take part in realizing Lopez’s plan and creating a lasting public art work– in record time.  From drawing to finishing touches, the Fort Collins Community Mural took four days to complete!

Poudre River is an old hand at promoting the arts and arts education in the community in fresh and exciting ways– many of them on a grand scale. The system’s newest library, for example, incorporates an award-winning artist’s work in the building design, and the remodel plans for the main branch involves collaboration with the Art in Public Places program for the city of Fort Collins.

In addition, Irene notes that local authors and artists frequent the library and that “We do many craft programs for the young artists, and our screen-writing / creative writing programs are always a hit.  The youth enjoy our programs on poetry or workshops that explore the various arts.”

On the idea of the library as an arts incubator, Irene says, ” The library is an important partner in promoting the arts” and says that she’d love to see “More partnered programs that engage the entire community” at Poudre River in the future.

Putting the finishing touches on the completed Fort Collins Community Mural

Want to learn more?  Check out this video about how Irene and the Poudre River Public Library collaborated with Rafael Lopez, learn more about the artist, and see his work come to life as community kids paint the mural:

Irene also shared some great PR documents she used to advertize the event and thank partipants for contributing, which you can download here:

Invitation to watch the Rafael Lopez Community Mural come to life

A thank-you from Rafael Lopez and the Poudre River staff to all participants and sponsors

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