Some people look forward to, and others are overwhelmed, by the holidays and the intense planning, the food, and the commercial pressure. I would like to take the opportunity this season to express a simple but heartfelt thanks to the people of two very important organizations whose efforts year after year support the libraries of Grand County: The Friends of Grand County Libraries Inc. and The Grand County Library Foundation.
Among the many who deserve the community’s gratitude, I would like to give special recognition to Marla Gall, President of the Friends of Grand County Libraries, and Ann Douden, Treasurer of the Grand County Library Foundation. As an essential part of these two organizations, they have achieved great things by raising the additional funds that help our libraries grow and flourish.
The “Friends” have actively supported libraries in the Grand County system, including those in Grand Lake, Granby, Fraser, Hot Sulphur Springs, and Kremmling since 1984. Funds raised by the Friends go directly towards library programs and collections. The Grand County Library Foundation has been existence since 2005, but in the last year, thanks to the work of Ann Douden and the Directors, GCLF has returned from dormancy to actively working towards keeping out libraries sustainable into the future.
Marla Gall’s story of 34 years of commitment to libraries will ring some bells among those who are longtime residents of the valley. Marla writes,
“My family had a home library. In primary school, each classroom contained a cabinet filled with books. If we had time after completing our mathematics assignments, we could open those glass doors of the “library” cabinet and choose a book. Magic and wonder was behind those doors. In middle and high school, the library was the place to go to research topics or check out the English Lit book of the month. University classes required everyday trips to the library. I learned then and believe now that the library is a welcoming, “time stops at the door” kind of place.
When in 1982 my family moved to Grand County, the libraries were small but very active. Our three-year-old eagerly listened to Miss Carol (Schroer) read books and tell stories each week. I and some other motivated ladies wanted to help the libraries offer more books, more games, more space. A call from the then County library trustees asking if we wanted to form a Friends group to accept gifts from a trust lit our fire so in 1984 The Friends of the Grand County Library, Inc. was created.
The sense of accomplishment and helping a system blossom from small rooms that could accommodate only a few people to programs and buildings that now serve crowds is good, but the excitement that keeps The Friends of the Grand County Library and me active comes from the exuberance and activities within the five branch libraries and the belief that the library is a significant part of people’s environs and time still stops when those glass doors open and the magic bursts forth and carries each of us into “My Very Own World”.
Some of that magic is from time past. I am in awe of the ladies of the Hot Sulphur Springs Women’s Club who, by wanting to share the love of books and realizing the importance of learning created the County’s first public library by gathering books and shelving them in their homes. Imagine, the ladies moved books from one home to another, sharing responsibilities so that the mountain people could knock on “Mr. and Mrs. Smith/Jone’s” door and ask to peruse the library shelves. How generous, kind and thoughtful were those folks! Thank you to all the Mr. and Mrs. Smith/Jones who unselfishly opened their homes to bring smiles and open the world in the then remote “Island in the Rockies”. You have inspired me.
Stephanie Ralph is the Executive Director of the Grand County Library District