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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct title of Chris Barge at the Community Foundation Boulder County. Also, a quote has been corrected to reflect his reference to the Boulder library.

The Boulder Library Foundation recently hired its first executive director to help aid its mission of maintaining a longtime base of avid readers while also attracting a new generation of book lovers to its stacks.

The foundation recently announced Chris Barge, former vice president of of communications and engagement with the Community Foundation Boulder County and former journalist for the Daily Camera and other Colorado newspapers, as its new executive director.

Chris Barge was recently hired as the first executive director of the Boulder Library Foundation. (Courtesy photo)

“I feel like this is 23 years of professional experience that is all relevant,” Barge said. “The job of executive director is to create the conditions where the Boulder Library Foundation can find great success.”

Barge’s first day in the new role is Aug. 23.

While working as a reporter for the Daily Camera, Barge remembers thinking, “What newspapers need to be successful is more readers.” After leaving his career in newspapers, he worked for the Community Foundation Boulder County in several roles and was involved with projects, including a Latino parent engagement program and managed a trend magazine where he looked at numerous ways to help the community, he said.

During his time in journalism and with the Community Foundation Boulder County, Barge noticed that each position had direct ties to libraries and the importance reading plays in our everyday lives.

“The library is an institution that sits at the crossroads of so many of our social issues whether it is literacy, homelessness, education or civic engagement,” he said. “(I look forward to) really getting in a community engagement feedback loop where we are in constant touch with a broad swath of the community. From there you can identify the needs.”

Barge is now the third paid employee for the Boulder Library Foundation, said Alicia Gibb foundation board president.

“We have been a volunteer-run foundation since 1974,” she said. “We have had extraordinarily active members. The foundation has really kind of shifted to a new model of not having our board members do all of the work and switching to an advisory board. The library needs more and more support because we are getting these budget cuts from the city, so we thought our best shot was to hire an executive director to lead it.”

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, $1.3 million has been cut from the library’s operating budget. As a result, a total of 66 full and part-time positions have been eliminated, Gibb said.

“(Chris) gets the fundraising niches in our community,” she said. “I think he is really great at partnerships and he is great at storytelling, and I think that’s a really important piece if we want our library to survive all these budget cuts.”

Joni Teter, volunteer with the Boulder Library Champions and former Boulder Library commissioner, said she is excited to see Barge step into the role as executive director and help further connect the library to Boulder County residents and showcase its importance in the community.

“I am really excited to see them take this step,” she said. “(The foundation members) are such a crucial support to the library and the community.”