Volunteers play vital roles in helping the Library further its mission of building an educated and vibrant community through access to information and opportunities. Each month we introduce you to and highlight the work of some of these generous individuals.
Meet Barb Janusz
In a 2002 address to the United Nations, Nelson Mandela predicted, “History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” This is apparently Barb Janusz’s credo. A Columbine Library volunteer, Barb worked for nearly 40 years as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner until she retired in 2016. Soon afterwards, she began looking for ways to continue making a difference in the lives of children, and in the fall of 2017 responded to a volunteer recruitment for Columbine Library.
“My job is organizing crafts for the library’s many weekly Storytimes. I wasn’t sure I would like it at first. But it turns out Storytime is a big business here – hundreds of kids attend the sessions throughout the week. I make sure that all the parts and pieces are cut and counted and ready to go with each week’s theme,” she explains.
Barb has a keen understanding of the impact that reading aloud has on a child’s later success in language development and academics – in fact, the research suggests that this is the single most important activity in promoting emerging literacy.
“So it feels good, assisting with this effort here at the library,” Barb says. “My husband Ken and I moved to South Jeffco nearly 42 years ago. When my son and daughter were little, I used to take them to Storytimes all the way over at Bemis Library in Littleton. This was way back before Columbine Library was even built. And when my grandkids were younger, I used to take them to their library’s Storytimes too, when I visited them out in North Carolina.”
It didn’t take long for staff at Columbine Library to capitalize more fully on Barb’s executive skills. Soon she was also cataloging and replenishing the library’s flannel board collection and organizing their stuffed animal bins.
“Barb’s consistent, reliable help has brought both organization and creativity back to Columbine, to the delight of all,” says Columbine staffer Sue Gimenez. “Knowing we can count on Barb has allowed staff the luxury of time to explore new programs for our patrons of all ages.”
Every now and then a rather unusual request comes Barb’s way.
“Last fall the library hosted a ‘Fuzzy Friend Sleepover.’ Little children dropped off their favorite stuffed toys for an overnight visit at the library. My job was to make miniature flannel blankets for the toys. When the kiddos dropped off their stuffies, they each got to choose one of the blankets to keep their toys warm overnight. How cute is that?”
So far, retirement has been anything but leisurely for Barb. In addition to volunteering weekly at the library, she has continued singing with the Cherry Creek Chorale, a talent she has cultivated since 1983. In fact, Barb serves on the Chorale’s music library committee – organizing, distributing, and gathering back up the sheet music for the group’s 140 performers. And since 2007, Barb has also volunteered as a docent at the Colorado Governor’s Residence, leading tours and teaching Colorado history to visiting 3rd and 4th graders.
“But everybody knows that they can’t mess with my library schedule,” Barb smiles wryly. “I love the work I’m doing and the staff and patrons here are so nice and kind and wonderful. I would do anything to help them.”
Rest assured, Barb – the feeling is quite mutual!