Guest column: Holloran, Swanson instrumental in library’s growth, development |

Guest column: Holloran, Swanson instrumental in library’s growth, development

Bud Werner Memorial Library
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

We would like to take this opportunity to recognize two longtime members of the Bud Werner Memorial Library Board of Trustees, Mike Holloran and Denny Swanson. These two brilliant, passionate and selfless men have served our community for 30-plus years.

As 2022 winds down and they retire from their volunteer positions on the library board, we are reminded that two remarkable leaders have embodied the words of Elizabeth Andrew: “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart.”

Mike Holloran joined the Steamboat Springs Regional Library District Board in November 1972 and was instrumental in the formation of the East Routt Regional Library District in 1974, which evolved into the East-West Routt County Regional Library District by 1976. Serving as a member, and eventually as the president, he worked tirelessly to grow our region’s library services at a time when board members were expected to do the work that staff do today, and there was little to no money.

He and his fellow board members created policies, wrote grants, lobbied county commissioners and town governments, negotiated insurance policies, built budgets, dealt with building maintenance and hired staff. True story: Some time ago we shared with Mike old meeting minutes where the board held a vote on whether to purchase a wastebasket for the library. We were incredulous that a wastebasket was an item for discussion. Mike nodded and said, “Yep, that’s the way it was back then.”

Although Mike stepped away from the board in July 1977 to work on his law practice, the lure of literature, the promise of story and the desire to “contribute to the intellectual life of the community” pulled him back into service. He rejoined the board in August 1981.

Mike’s skills as a negotiator and policy maker, along with his savvy legal mind, helped guide the library through many complex issues and processes. His true love of reading and books inspired him and his wife Suzy to become involved in Literary Sojourn, first as attendees and today as sponsors.

Mike Holloran
Courtesy photo

By 1990, the library district was facing financial challenges due to growth and demand for its services. Denny Swanson was invited to be a member of the library’s development council, a group of wise, community-minded people who were tasked with looking closely at the library’s budget and exploring opportunities for additional funding. The council came back with a unanimous recommendation that the district should ask voters for a mill levy increase. The vote passed in 1990 and forever changed the services the library could offer. Following that successful effort, Denny was invited to serve on the board in 1991.

Denny’s greatest contribution to the library, and the one thing he is most proud of, was his involvement and support of the building expansion and renovation in 2007-08, creating our present-day library. He attended all of the weekly construction meetings, providing valuable feedback for the endless decisions that had to be made during construction, ensured that the shelves were filled with thousands of new titles on opening day, and honored the loss of our old trees by making sure that mature trees were planted instead of saplings.

Denny’s commitment to the library can only be matched by his kindness and compassion. He believes strongly in the power of libraries to make a difference in the lives of children through books and stories to inspire imagination and a lifelong love of learning. He and his wife Joy helped fund the large interactive early-literacy installations in the children’s library, and his brother Wayne Swanson’s estate is charged with providing scholarships for staff seeking a career in librarianship.

Denny Swanson
Courtesy photo

Our glorious library and the remarkable place it holds in our community’s heart would not be here without the service of these two men. When you see them on the street, on the slopes or in the grocery store, stop and take a moment to shake a hand or give a hug, and thank them for enriching our community.

This column was provided by Alysa Selby, the current library director; Christine Painter, who served as director from 1984-2021; the East Routt Library District Board of Trustees and Bud Werner Memorial Library staff.

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