Anythink announces Nature Library in partnership with City of Thornton

A rendering of the Anythink Nature Library in Thornton, Colorado

Anythink Libraries and the City of Thornton have entered an agreement to build a nature library on the current Aylor Open Lands property at 136th Avenue and Quebec Street in Thornton. After years of planning, Thornton City Council and the Anythink Board of Trustees have signed an intergovernmental agreement that would lease 15 acres to the district, with plans to build a 35,000-square- foot nature library. The other 140 acres of open lands will be programmed by the Anythink team and reserved for nature learning and exploration.

The Anythink Nature Library will be designed to support the wellbeing of the Thornton community through spaces, experiences and collections. The library will act as a natural extension of the Aylor Open Lands and will encourage people of all ages to spend time outdoors learning about stars, water, wildlife and seasonal changes to help build a culture of environmental stewardship. This natural experience is intended to spark imagination and creativity, while providing a place to practice being human.

Design phase of the library project is currently underway, with five main areas of focus: creating a space that is boundless, where nature education is seamlessly provided within the library and throughout the surrounding land; wellbeing, focusing on the health and wellness of the community; environmental stewardship, expanding individual responsibility to the earth; heritage, celebrating the history and culture of the people, animals, flora and fauna of the West; and beauty, creating a space that is designed to inspire.

“Since Anythink’s inception in September 2009, encouraging kids and families to spend time in nature has been a foundational priority for the library,” says Anythink Executive Director Pam Sandlian Smith. “Starting with Nature Explore classrooms and community gardens, partnerships with organizations like CSU Extension and the Arbor Day Foundation have provided years of outdoor learning opportunities. The Anythink Nature Library is the evolution of this work, creating even more access to nature for people of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring a new generation of environmental stewards.”

According to the Child Mind Institute, the benefits of spending time outdoors for both kids and adults include building confidence, promoting creativity and imagination, teaching responsibility, providing stimulation through activation of the senses, movement, making them think and ask questions about the world, and reducing stress and fatigue.

“We are so appreciative of the innovative partnership Thornton has with Anythink Libraries,” says Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann. “We have been working together for years and now we believe together we will provide one of the most unique learning experiences in Colorado.”

Construction will tentatively begin third quarter 2023, with an anticipated open date in 2025.