Volunteer Spotlight

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 one of these generous individuals.

Meet Kim Grogan

Some might call her a jack-of-all-trades.  Others would describe her as a Renaissance woman.  However, neither expression captures the essence of Kim Grogan quite like the term ilcheardaí, the Irish word for factotum, or a person skilled at many crafts.  It’s fitting, really, since this talented volunteer holds dual citizenship in the United States as well as Ireland.

“Literacy is highly valued in Ireland, as are poetry and art,” Kim muses.   “I’m a huge reader and I love talking books with the Irish.  They’re masters at rhetoric – always up for lively discussion.”

A South Dakota native, Kim Grogan’s resume mirrors her wide-ranging interests and abilities.  In her late teens and early twenties, Kim held an eclectic variety of jobs – tour guide, dishwasher, bartender, and lifeguard.  She eventually made her way to Colorado to attend law school at University of Denver. 

“I was a lawyer for a lot of years – a criminal defense attorney for the indigent.  Eventually, I went back to school to earn a teaching certificate, which came in handy when I wound up home schooling my daughter Fiona for three years due to serious health problems she had as a child.” 

During those years, Lakewood Library was like a second home to Kim, and the Lakewood staff was like a second family.  The library became vital to the family’s day-to-day, and Kim and Fiona were frequent flyers at Storytimes and other kids’ programs.  Kim appreciated the fact that library staff took such a strong interest in Fiona, now a Harvard law student.

“I SO believe in the library’s mission,” Kim comments.  “Call my volunteering a little give-back; I appreciate all that the library’s done for me.”

Kim has embraced a dizzying array of roles as a library volunteer.  She originally came on board several years ago to serve on the library’s Speakers Bureau.  Later, she undertook a new role as one of JCPL’s digital storytellers, interviewing patrons whose narratives she wrote for the library magazine, Connect, as well as online at jeffcolibrary.org.  One day the call went out for volunteers to help steam press more than 100 super hero capes for an upcoming program.  Kim packed the entire shipment of capes into the back of her car and ironed them at home while catching up on Game of Thrones.  And most recently, Kim was asked by the library’s Director of Strategy and Engagement to distill a large quantity of information into a project management template and checklist for library supervisors and managers to use in their planning.

One of Kim’s unique interests is cosplay – the practice of dressing up as characters from movies, books, or other popular culture pursuits.  In fact, her entire family dresses up each year for Denver’s Comic-Con.  So of course, Kim was one of the first volunteers to sign up to help with JCPL’s Fandomonium last fall.  Patrons of all ages showed up that day clad in a diverse assortment of costumes, and the event featured contests, games, crafts and trivia. 

“That was such a great event for the library.  It brought home to me the fact that the library means so much, to so many people, in so many different ways.  I remember talking to one family that attended with four or five kids.  The dad said they had been talking about Fandomonium for weeks and when I handed them their badges, they were so thrilled.  I totally understood how they felt – and when you see the ‘common good’ in those kinds of terms, you can’t help but advocate for the library.”

The library is not the only community organization to benefit from Kim’s time and generosity.  She also registers voters for the Colorado League of Women Voters and volunteers at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where she is a Galaxy Guide in Space Odyssey.

“I confess I’m a real space nerd.  I was only eight the year of the moon landing, but that event had a huge impact on me.  It became part of my psyche.  That same year, I won a contest that Weekly Reader sponsored and the prize was a whole collection of books on space.  Those were the first books I ever owned.  That meant a lot to me and I’ve been a space enthusiast ever since.”

When she’s not doing good works for her community, Kim enjoys reading and traveling with her husband, Paul.  Eventually, they hope to spend a few months every year in Ireland.  And a true lifelong learner, Kim is now tackling the Spanish language via Skype through an immersion school in Mexico, another destination high on her bucket list.  One day she hopes to attend that school in person, immersing herself in the local language and culture.

One day.  So many talents, so little time...