2020 Summit County Library Volunteer Appreciation Awards
Each year, library staff and the Summit County Library Board acknowledge the hard work of the library volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to making the Summit County Library a welcoming and enriching environment for both residents and visitors.
For 2020, we are pleased to present the Van Woodford Award and the Volunteer of the Year Award to two deserving recipients; Mary Gessner and Barbara Parry. Plaques with their names will hang in the Main Library in Frisco.
Volunteer of the Year
We wish to thank and congratulate Barbara Parry as the recipient of the Summit County Library Volunteer of the Year award. Barb has served on the Library Board for the Summit County since 2016 and the Library Foundation since 2017.
Barb moved to Summit County from Gillette, Wyoming for her retirement. After a professional life teaching elementary and 2nd grade children, she came to the mountains and immersed herself in volunteering as a trustee on the Summit County Library Board. “One of the main reasons I decided to join the Library Board was because I believed in the importance of every child learning to read and having a library card. Libraries were handed down to us as a family tradition. My parents always took me to the library and I did the same for my children. Now it is a great joy to see my grandson who, at four months has his own library card. He is also enrolled in the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program and is well on the way to becoming a graduate.”
Barb has served on the Library Board for five years, first as the Library Foundation liaison and then as the Board President. However, she isn’t done yet and has even agreed to serve a second term. In 2017, Barb also joined the Strategic Plan Programming Committee including the Marketing and Community committee, working alongside staff and board members to come develop new protocols and ideas to move Summit County Library into the future.
Barb has always made a point to stay up to date with library programming. Upon learning that craft classes were very popular, she vounteered to teach a 6- week knitting class for beginners. Barb was an excellent and patient teacher; her students progressed quickly and still enjoy knitting today.
Barb joined the Library Foundation in 2017 and currently serves on the board as the Secretary. She feels that Summit County Library, “is working hard to stay ahead of the curve and provide the community with the access to a world of different services.” She stresses the importance of a traditional collection of books, DVDs and magazines, but also appreciates that Summit patrons now have the choice of free access to rich choice of online services: “Library patrons use their library cards to access Rosetta Stone and learn a language, download books or movies, take an academic course, learn a craft, browse magazines or update their tech skills.” She encourages everyone to go to the library website and explore the opportunities.
As two building projects moved into fruition, Barb didn’t hesitate to get involved with the fundraising campaign for the expansion of the North Branch and renovation of the Main Library. She is working tirelessly on not one but EVERY committee, the Steering Committee, Events Committee, Grants Committee, Fundraising Committee and the Marketing Committee. “It is hard work, but thoroughly rewarding “she says while making the point that although the buildings are important, it is the quality of the programming and the staff that draws people together in the library.
The Summit County Library would like to thank Barb for her continued dedication and honor her with this award.
Past Volunteer of the Year recipients include Jaime Bailey, Andrew Armour, Gini Bartley, Joyce Timpson, Kathleen Martynowicz, Barbara & Gary Weis, Brian Edney, Shirley Beaty, Eileen Finkle, Mary Kidd, Kristina Nethaway, Sue Paluska, Becky Morgan, Brett Teatre, Richard Hale, Kay Bullington and Beverly McArthur.
Van Woodford Award 2020
The Van Woodford Award was started after branch manager Van Woodford dedicated 37 years to Summit County Library, including 2 library moves, countless story times, programs, hands held and lives enhanced. The Van Woodford Achievement Award was her farewell and our standard for the kind of public servants we aspire to be.
Our 2020 winner of the Van Woodford Award is Mary Gessner, who joined the Library Board in 2018 and carried on that spirit. Mary brought her energy to every board meeting and strove to develop a fun culture beyond the monthly meetings. Her detail-oriented style, organization skills and willingness to jump in to improve all aspects of the library was apparent immediately. At that time, the major focus was a revised strategic plan. Mary volunteered to help the technology committee; working to analyze weaknesses of the current systems that were in place at Summit County Library and recommend improvements to streamline procedures and train staff. She also volunteered to head up the Personnel committee, encouraging staff team building and reviewing job satisfaction.
Mary immersed herself in library news and culture, regularly sharing articles about what other libraries were embracing throughout the country, such as going fine free. She read The Library Book by Susan Orlean and Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization and the Decline of Civic Life by Eric Klinenberg, educating herself about the history and importance of libraries in our society. Upon hearing about future building projects at the Main and the North Library, Mary thought outside the box with new ideas. She suggested field trips down to the Front Range to visit libraries and the possibility of planning a travel itinerary for the three Summit County library groups to visit the innovative Calgary library.
Mary supported Summit County Library fundraising efforts; volunteering at our South Branch outdoor book sale to help sell books to support the Friends of the Library in the summer and attending our Eat, Drink, Give event at Kenosha Steakhouse in Breckenridge. When the opportunity came to join the capital campaign fundraising committee to raise money to expand North Branch, again Mary didn’t hesitate to take on one of the most intimidating committees; grant writing. Instead of being scared off by her lack of experience, she saw it as an opportunity to develop a new skill.
Mary frequently suggested social get togethers after meetings, encouraging staff and volunteers to get to know one another personally outside of meetings. When a fellow board member organized a staff and board outing to serve community dinner at a local church, Mary was one of the first to sign up. Mary was an advocate for the library; recruiting friends and other Summit County residents to learn about library resources and get involved in programs. She made it a point to pay attention to what was happening at Summit County Libraries, not just read the monthly board statistics. By signing up to attend our adult events, including flower arranging and creating book planters, and by serving on committees she got to know library staff and patrons.
Mary’s time on the library board has come to a close, but we will never forget the important lessons she taught us. She never forgot to recognize and celebrate the hard work of those around her. Mary always had a card ready for those whose term was up on the board, a gift for a staff member getting married, and a home baked treat for a holiday meeting. Her caring nature, quiet presence and welcome suggestion; “Would anyone like to go to the local brewery after this meeting?” will hopefully live on.
Van Woodford award recipients from previous years include Karen Musolf, Janet Good, Susan Donaldson, Maggie Cox, Carolyn Wiseman, Cass Dombrowski, Joyce Dierauer, Ron & Kathy Schuman, Randall McKinnon, Dan Taylor, Ken Gray, Mary Lynne Kneller, Helen Barker, Paul Olson and Kristina Nethaway.
To learn more about volunteering with Summit County Library, visit our Volunteer page ; follow the library on Facebook, Instagram; or come by visit us at any of the three locations, in Frisco, Breckenridge and Silverthorne.