Library Corner: Hooray for library volunteers |

Library Corner: Hooray for library volunteers

Stephanie Ralph
Grand County Library District
Ben Mathis

As long as there have been libraries in Grand County, there have been those who have those who have stepped up with time and energy to support the work. From providing willing hands and strong backs when the situation demands, to the day-to-day duties of organizing the collection or helping out with young library patrons, Grand County volunteers are essential to our great libraries. I would like to recognize the work of a few of our volunteers and sincerely thank all of those who dedicate the time every day to support our libraries.

At Kremmling Library you may have noticed Ben Mathis, a 16-year-old homeschooler, who volunteers his time to lead the Lego Club and Virtual Reality programs, all while studying, taking on leadership roles in 4-H, and acting as the Grand County representative in the Colorado delegation in Citizenship Washington Focus in DC this past summer. Libraries, tech programs, and Ben are a perfect match – not only does he possess great technological skills, but he also has a personable leadership style and dedication to community involvement. This summer, Ben partnered with our Director of Technology teaching professional librarians from around the state how to incorporate VR into library programming.

You may not have met Kathie Vidmar, but if you visit the Fraser Valley Library, you will certainly have noticed her work. When Kathie comes to her home in the valley from Colorado Springs one of the first places she stops in is the Fraser Valley Library to see how she can help. She has graced us (for many, many years) with seasonal-themed displays, meticulously decorated bulletin boards and engaging interactive displays.

Janice Dahl is a local artist who spends her summers in Fraser and winters in the Denver area. Recently her pastels, watercolors, charcoals and pen and ink sketches were on display in the Fraser Valley Urban Community Meeting Room. Janice originally approached Jeanette McQuade, the branch manager of the Fraser Valley Library, with a desire to share her artistic gifts with the community. She said that she was convinced that each person has an inner artist, and she wanted to help others see the world through new eyes and to help them capture memories using portable sketchbook techniques. She began volunteering at the Fraser Valley Library in 2017 by hosting a series of journal sketching classes. Patrons came from all over Grand County to attend her courses – not only to learn a new skill, but also to congregate with others with similar interests. The program was so popular that in the summer of 2018, Janice expanded her volunteer programming to the Granby Library, and she broadened her training sessions to include a variety of mixed media techniques.

Mikey and Sophie began volunteering at the Fraser Valley Library in 2016 as a trained dog-therapy team. When Mikey told Jeanette, the branch manager of the library, about her trained therapy dog, the two put their heads together and decided to launch a “Read to a Dog” program where children and families were invited to come to the Fraser Valley Library to read to Sophie… the most nonjudgmental listener one could hope to have by their side! While children practice reading aloud many lives were brightened. Since 2016, Mikey and Sophie have held ongoing, regularly scheduled programs at the Fraser Valley Library during the school year, and have attended many special events year round to promote reading. They have also extended their visits to branches district wide.

Grand County is a community committed serving others. More shouts outs from our 5 branches next week as we thank and honor the contribution and tradition of volunteering in Grand County Libraries.

Stephanie Ralph is the director of the Grand County Library District.

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