Category: Blog Posts

Volunteers & Staff Deliver an Enchanted Evening

In July, patrons of all ages gathered for Wizard School, the signature event at DCL in Highlands Ranch. In addition to the many staff who teamed together to provide an unforgettable Harry Potter-like experience, more than 90 volunteers were critical to the event’s success!

Adult and teen volunteers were essential in helping staff prepare crafts and refreshments, decorate wizard shops and castle classrooms, greet and check in guests, hand out supplies, guide participants, and engage children with wonderful wizarding activities! They also assisted in the herculean task of cleaning up and returning the library to its original muggle condition so the branch could open bright and early the next morning, ready to serve our community.

Thank you, Wizard School volunteers!

DCL Volunteer Honored by Colorado Association of Libraries

Congratulations to Nichole Walters, who was named the 2019 Colorado Association of Libraries’ Outstanding Volunteer. Nichole was recognized in September at the association’s annual conference in Loveland.

Nichole began volunteering for Douglas County Libraries (DCL) in 2014 at the Highlands Ranch branch. Initially, she helped with the Summer Reading Program, Simple Science series, Movin’ and Groovin’ Storytimes, and Technology Fair, and she prepared crafts for events. Nichole’s huge heart and giving spirit soon led her to become a Lead Volunteer in our Homebound Delivery program, delivering library materials to those in our community who are unable to visit the library themselves due to illness or injury.

In early 2018, Nichole became instrumental in processing donated materials for online sales through our Amazon storefront. And later that year with the Highlands Ranch branch closure for renovations, she drove the 42-mile round trip weekly for nearly six months to continue the operation out of another DCL branch.

Nichole’s volunteer efforts have helped support our DCL Foundation, which provides Camp DCL scholarships for children, and literacy-based programs like Cuddle Up & Read, which introduces new parents to the library’s early literacy services.

Nichole is always among the first to offer help. She has superhuman stamina and is dauntless in the face of obstacles no matter how insurmountable they may seem. She does it all with a quiet dedication that touches lives but seeks no credit or recognition. We are truly honored to have Nichole as a DCL volunteer!

An Eagle Scout Among Us!

In a ceremony at Lone Tree, teen volunteer Alex D. received his Eagle Scout award.

We are excited to honor Highlands Ranch volunteer Alex Downing, who received his Eagle Scout award in December 2018, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program.

Alex is the son of staff member Cindy Williams. He oversaw the creation of cat beds for the Denver Dumb Friends League, which he and more than two dozen volunteers made over two days.

The Eagle Scout ceremony was hosted at our Lone Tree branch. DCL extends our heartfelt congratulations to Alex!

Book Start Bustle: July





Featured Book Start Staff Member

Kathy Koenig – Highlands Ranch

Kathy joined DCL in 2008.

“I have always said that Book Start is like Grubhub for the brain. The library delivers the books to children to feed their minds through our friendly, amazing volunteers.”


Did You Know?


Ever wonder why animals are such a common feature in children’s songs? Singing songs with animal noises is a good way to connect sounds with words. Give songs like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “I Love My Rooster” a try!

Music & Movement Tip: Songs With Instructions

Songs with instructions, especially “freeze” or “stop,” can teach kids control and enhance motor skills, as well as help them work on listening skills and vocabulary. Check out Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael’s Dance, Freeze, Melt song with variation options.

Why Is Repetition Beneficial to Children?

It might seem boring to you to read the same book over and over, but as a Latin proverb says, “Repetition is the mother of all learning.” Repetition builds pathways in the brain, and each time those pathways are followed we go down them quicker. Studies show that every time we remember something, our connection to that thing grows stronger. A familiar pattern also helps children feel safe, and then learning can happen naturally. Read more about the benefits of repetition in this article by Kindermusik.


Have You Had a Chance to Try … Mary Had a Little Lamb?

You can use this flannel board to teach kids counting, colors, and a beloved nursery rhyme.

National President’s Awards

Doris W. and McKaela B., volunteers at Roxborough, received President’s Volunteer Service Awards.

Recently, DCL recognized 89 volunteers with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, the nation’s most prestigious service award. President’s Awards honor those who, by their commitment, inspire others to engage in volunteerism.

For these awards, hours were tracked from January 1 through December 31, 2018. Volunteers earned award levels based on their service hours during that 12-month period: bronze, silver and gold.

DCL’s four gold winners for 2018 are:

  • Jackson Hamilton – Castle Rock teen volunteer
  • Riley Hamilton – Castle Rock teen volunteer
  • Sasha Morton – Highlands Ranch teen volunteer
  • Rowan Trietley – Lone Tree teen volunteer


In addition, in 2018 the DCL Board of Trustees’ combined hours qualified for a group silver award, and the DCL Foundation’s combined hours qualified for a group bronze award.

Congratulations to all of our award winners!

DCL Staff Take on Volunteer Training

Kim McClintock led a group activity to highlight the numerous steps involved in creating a volunteer program.

Ali Ayres, Department Head Volunteer Services, and Kim McClintock, Highlands Ranch Branch Volunteer Coordinator, co-presented a three-hour interactive workshop in April for Spark the Change Colorado. Spark the Change, formerly Metro Volunteers, inspires a movement of good through the power of volunteerism, service and engagement.

The organization’s Volunteer Management Training Series consists of six modules created by the Points of Light Institute. The series is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the major components of a nonprofit volunteer management program. Ali and Kim taught a course called Planning Your Volunteer Program. Upon completion of the series, attendees receive a Volunteer Management Certificate and have new strategies to develop, recruit, retain and recognize volunteers.

Recent Graduates Shine

Eight graduates received their certificates of achievement at the April ceremony at Lone Tree.

DCL’s GED, high school equivalency (HSE), and Career Online High School (COHS) programs provide opportunities for adult students to shine in their achievements. Though these educational paths may be less traditional, they are necessary to accommodate the unique situations of community members.

On April 28, in Lone Tree’s packed Event Hall, DCL recognized the accomplishments of eight high school graduates in Douglas County. The graduation ceremony celebrated the continuation of these students and acknowledged the roles of their families, tutors and friends who supported them along the way. These students worked with our community partners and volunteer tutors to prepare for this accomplishment.

Guest speakers at the ceremony included a teacher and a parent, who spoke to honor their students. Two graduates also spoke, citing the obstacles they’ve overcome to find the confidence and determination to earn their degrees.

These programs are successful because of a team effort by DCL volunteers and staff, including:

  • The support of Volunteer Services and the volunteers themselves.
  • Technical Services, catalogers, and our MHTs, who keep the study materials accessible.
  • Facilities, which keeps our libraries beautiful and safe places to learn.
  • Community Relations, which creates the beautiful invitations and takes event-day photos.
  • The DCL Foundation, which helps fund scholarships that help our students pay for testing fees.
  • Librarians and public services staff who are always welcoming and helpful to our volunteers and students.
  • DCL’s administration, which continues to support the Adult Literacy Program.

Together, we truly are building bright futures!

Volunteer Appreciation Night

On April 26, Douglas County Libraries (DCL) celebrated our volunteers at a special Dealer’s Choice event at our Parker location. Our annual volunteer appreciation celebration gives us a chance to say “thank you” to our volunteers for their dedication and commitment to our libraries.

Volunteers and their guests enjoyed socializing with other volunteers and staff. They also played foosball and Ping-Pong, learned casino games, got to spin a prize wheel, sampled a mocktail bar, learned from educational boards, and much more.

Photos, clockwise from top: Volunteers learned a few tricks to playing casino games from our dealers. The mocktail bar served up unique and flavorful blends. Our Volunteer Services team was “decked” out for the event. Foosball was a fun new addition to this year’s event! 

On the Loose: Stuffed Animals Take Over!

On a cold Friday evening in February, stuffed animals came alive and wreaked havoc all through the Parker branch. Who knew that a triceratops could lead Storytime, or that a monkey could operate the copier? With a touch of volunteer magic, anything is possible!

At our Stuffed Animal Sleepover event, young children and their parents visited the library on a Friday night to drop off their stuffed animals. They were greeted by welcoming volunteers and friendly staff. Before saying goodnight to the animals, the kids and their animals decorated cookies, colored a fabric scarf, and came together for a goodnight Storytime.

After the kids said their goodnights and went home for the evening, our six wonderful volunteers worked their magic alongside staff members Jayna and Kelcy to “help” the stuffed animals get into mischief around the library. This group of teen volunteers demonstrated our core values of being welcoming to the children and their families, being trustworthy in the library after hours, and being innovative with creative photo poses.

Kudos to volunteers Cole, John, Rylee, Haley, Samantha U., Samantha W., and Connor for an amazing job.

Written by Michael King, Parker Branch Volunteer Coordinator


Volunteering Is Good for the Soul — And So Is Reading!

Many readers, myself included, prefer reading books in print format. We like the smell of books, the feel and weight of books, and the shhh sound as we run our fingers across the pages. We feel engaged in life as we read. Now there are studies that show that reading books can keep us alive longer.

The act of reading books may not only prolong memory and help keep you mentally sharp, but it also may lead to a longer life. A study published in the Journal of Social Science & Medicine in September 2016 found astonishing results. Reading books for 30 minutes per day or more has been shown to prolong life on average by 23 additional months. Reading books for up to 30 minutes per day also had some positive correlations to longevity as compared to nonbook readers and nonreaders. Solely reading newspaper articles and magazines did not show the same results as reading books. This is likely because reading books provides cognitive challenges and greater engagement with characters’ lives over a longer period than reading articles.

Many of us may think of reading as a solitary activity. In many ways, it is. Reading is also an activity that helps us develop empathy by getting to know countless characters intimately, through both fiction and nonfiction. Anyone who enjoys reading has laughed, cried, and even become angry at the characters in our favorite books. Many of us look for series that bring back the same characters because they become like friends. This is how books help us develop empathy and understanding for our fellow human beings with different life experiences. This keeps our brains active, engaged and challenged with critical thinking skills.

There is also a good deal of current research that correlates social interaction to longevity. Reading may be a part of that. The act of reading, both nonfiction and fiction, opens our minds and helps us empathize with our changing world and those around us. A shared reading experience, such as joining or starting a book club or simply discussing favorite books, allows us the common ground of a shared reading experience and the opportunity to talk, laugh and cry together.

If you are just getting started with reading more, ask your friends, family or a DCL librarian for some recommendations for finding the right book for you. Most book lovers have also started books that weren’t right for them, in which case they might set those aside after giving them a chance to try others.

The study that is the basis of this article was limited to books printed on paper and suggests that additional research is needed for audiobooks and e-books. However, if e-books are easier for you because they allow you to adjust the font and background color to your liking, among other features, download those books to your device! What is most important is the act of reading and mentally engaging with the story.

Written by Tiffany Curtin, Adult Literacy Specialist