Grand County Libraries: Portrait of a model library card holder
Every library has exceptional library members.
If you work at a library, you know who they are. They’re the people who visit the library weekly, if not daily. They pay their fines on time. They know the librarians by name.
And if they have children, those children participate in the library’s free programs.
Fraser resident John Kacik is one of the many familiar faces we see coming and going through our sliding doors. But as treasurer for the Grand County Library District’s Board of Trustees – a volunteer position – Kacik goes beyond the usual duties of a library cardholder.
He truly cares about the future of the county’s libraries, something that has evolved from his love for reading.
“I’m a reader. I like to read,” Kacik said, smiling through his reddish-brown beard as he sits inside one of the library’s meeting rooms. “Historical fiction, science fiction, nonfiction. I can’t really be without a book. I have to have one lined up all the time.”
Kacik and his wife, Mary, are voracious readers. Kacik is often perusing the new book shelves for the latest John Scalzi or Joe Haldeman, while his wife is more a fan of historical fiction, mysteries, and 19th century novels by Jane Austen.
Evenings at home are often spent reading instead of watching TV, and their passion for books has reflected onto their sons, Henry, and Jake. Jake, 9, is constantly reading, whether it’s a chapter book, or books about race cars, basketball, or any other type of sport.
Henry, 6, is a fairly new reader.
“He’s gobbling up whatever he can get his hands on at this point. He’s figuring out that there’s so much out there . . . to learn and read about,” Kacik said.
Both boys participate in the Fraser Valley Library’s after-school program, a program that Kacik sees as a huge benefit for his children – and for himself.
“It’s nice that it’s very easy for them to use the library, with their check-out sticks and their library programs and Internet. For me, it can be a bit of a gathering place,” Kacik said. “When you go to the programs with your kids, you get a chance to catch up with other parents, talk about the community, child-raising, what’s going on. It’s a good way to keep in contact with everybody.”
Kacik has been living in the Fraser Valley for 17 years.
Originally from Pennsylvania, he grew up in a military family, spending most of his life overseas in countries like Japan and Germany. Perhaps that is why he also enjoys reading historical books on past wars, such as World War II and the Civil War. He enjoys learning about different things and different places, he said.
“You get into the minds of war commanders, of the people who formed history. It’s interesting to hear what they did, what they went through. It brings things into a different kind of perspective.”
Kacik is constantly looking for a good read, and therefore one of his favorite features at the library is the ability to borrow books from other libraries. If his local library doesn’t own the book or item he’s looking for, he can request it online and have it shipped to the Fraser Valley Library in usually less than a week.
“I think I like that the best right now because I like to read a lot, and our library doesn’t always have the book that I’m looking for,” Kacik said. “I can go right online and reserve something that’s new or something I heard about and wanted to read.”
And it’s all free for library card holders, Kacik added.
“With these economic times we’re having right now, I think the library will be used more and more with all the free services (it offers),” he said. “And providing free Internet service is a huge value, especially with our seasonal work force on this end of the Valley.”
Kacik has been a trustee of the Grand County Library District for five years, and he is about to finish his second term. He truly enjoys his time with the board, he said. For him, volunteerism is very important. He strongly believes people should volunteer for something they care for – something they’re interested in.
“You can’t get involved with all of them, but if you get involved in one or two, then you can really get involved, and give back that way,” Kacik said. “If everyone in this community gave a little bit, it would be an even better place.”
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