Arbor Day is coming up on Friday, April 30 and we are excited to celebrate trees everywhere! But let’s bring the celebration a little more local for now…specifically to Library Park, which surrounds the Old Town Library. Did you know that Library Park is designated as an arboretum? It is made up of many special trees, including a Giant Sequoia, 100-year-old memorial oaks, and more.

In 2018, Eileen McCluskey, Library Manager at Old Town Library, worked with the City of Fort Collins Forestry department and Neighborhood Services department to plan a Tree Festival celebrating the trees in Library Park.  As part of the planning for the festival, Molly Roche, Senior Forestry Coordinator with the City, worked with a library volunteer, Sara H., to inventory the Library Park arboretum and input information about each tree into a website called the Colorado Statewide Tree Inventory Tool. This online tree inventory and mapping tool is used by Colorado foresters and arborists to record and visualize the location, species, and condition of the trees that make up Colorado’s urban forests.

The Tree Festival in 2019 included a guided walking tour, led by former City Forester Tim Buchanan, of the unique, historical and notable trees located in Library Park. Next time you’re wandering around the library look for the Giant Sequoia and three bur oaks planted in 1919 in tribute to soldiers lost in World War I. You’ll also find a Green Ash that is the 3rd largest in Colorado and a Colorado State Champion Red Elm tree.  There are memorial trees planted in honor of local community members, too. Check out this Notable Tree Tour of Fort Collins put together by the City, to learn more.

The trees in Library Park are important in so many ways. They provide essential shade for our programs and storytimes, particularly during the pandemic when indoor storytimes were cancelled. The new playground was designed with input from Old Town Library staff, who noted the significant connection that libraries and books share with trees. The playground graphics intentionally represent trees on the stacked books that our community kids climb and play on. The library has collaborated with the City’s Forestry department to provide some amazing programming in Library Park – we’ve had a guest arborist read to children at Community Hero Storytime, the Forestry Department has participated in the annual Touch-a-Truck event, and they have even given a tree climbing demonstration! Basically, we love trees and their caregivers here at the library!

City Arborists swinging from the trees at Community Hero Storytime
The playground at Library Park features tree imagery

If you are interested in learning more about Library Park trees, and trees in general, here are a few fun resources for inspiration:

History: Through the years, Library Park remains a gathering place (

Trees written by Pamela Hickman; illustrated by Carolyn Gavin

A nonfiction picture book about trees and the vital role that they play for people and animals. Covers the different kinds of trees, how they grow and change throughout the seasons and how they provide a home to a variety of animals. Includes tree-watching Q & A, leaf identification guide, and map of different tree species across the United States and Canada.

Trees: West by Steve Cafferty

A handy, portable reference to the trees and shrubs of western North America with full-color illustrations and detailed descriptions.

The Songs of Trees: Stories of Nature’s Great Connectors by David George Haskell

A professor of biology and environmental studies visits twelve trees around the world and discusses the biological relationships that sustain life, including bacterial communities, cooperative animals and fungal partners.

Wise Trees (eBook on hoopla) by Diane Cook, Len Jenshel

Leading landscape photographers Diane Cook and Len Jenshel present Wise Trees-a stunning photography book containing more than 50 historical trees with remarkable stories from around the world.

Be a Tree! (eBook on hoopla) by Maria Gianferrari, Felicita Sala A lyrical, gorgeously illustrated look at the majesty of trees-and what humans can learn from them.