Our Two Kristins in the Library

Our Schlessman Family Branch Library, a gem here in Lowry, is staffed by wonderful book people who know their stuff. And two of these stars are both named Kristin – easy to mix up, but special in their own ways. Let’s look behind the shelves and discover their stories.

Kristin Grabarek is originally from North Carolina growing up on a farm adjacent to the Uwharrie Mountains (look this up in a book!). She was always around books and read every children’s work in the local branch library in the musty  basement. She says, “I don’t remember the first book I read since I read constantly. Books were always there.”

Kristin Grabarek

Her path took her to Greensboro College where she studied history and music with the plan to be a teacher. Then she landed on a path that took her to library school instead. She worked as a clerk in the under grad library and the seeds were planted.  She has an MA from Auburn University and an MLIS from the University of Denver.

Books and libraries are her life now. “My favorite parts are working with children and families. I love connecting children to the ‘just right’ book and presenting Preschool Storytime to families every Friday. In the summer, we have a book club for tweens.”

Kristin received a grant from the Lowry Foundation and began a Little University here in Lowry. It’s a play-based early-learning program for children from birth to preschool and their caregivers. “I am so proud of this program. It reaches diverse families all over Denver – and the nation – as I published a book on play-based learning for libraries in 2019.” This is a big deal.

“My book bio uses the verb ‘pioneered’ and the Lowry Foundation is recognized for providing the money to create and build this new early-learning program. The learning is a relationship between you and your program attendee, you and the program presenters, and between program attendees and each other.” This learning is on many levels; it begun here and is now offered through libraries nationwide. The Schlessman Family Library is a pilot location for World Languages materials in Amharic, Somali, Tingrinia, and Arabic. (Another trip to Wikipedia.)

She is an active mother of three and her children like visiting all the Lowry neighborhood parks. Kristin grows vegetables in her backyard and is “always running into people we know.  Through the library, many of our patrons live in the neighborhood and we all enjoy books and beers at the Lowry Beer Garden. My children love it when we visit the Wings Museum for any of their event days.”

She has celebrated 15 years with the Denver Public Library and half of them here at  the Schlessman Family Branch Library. She moved to Lowry to be near her work “and I fell in love with the neighborhood and wanted to raise my children here.”

Kristin Mammel is another Lowryite and librarian at our favorite library, which after the downtown branch, has the second largest volume of checked-out books.

Originally from Lubbock, Texas, she was also a reader from the start. Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman was her favorite book as a child (another book you will want to look up!). She attended Baylor University for a degree in Elementary Education and 15 years later an MLS from Emporia State University (Kansas).  She realized the connection between young readers + books = libraries.

Moving to Denver 27 years ago, she has worked at another library prior to coming to  the Schlessman Family  Branch Library for 10 years – happily. “This library is always bustling and my coworkers are incredible and innovative.  Tell people to pick up a copy of the library’s activities and join in on the fun. I really like leading the Baby Storytime.”  There are opportunities from the wee ones, the crafty types, to researchers on the computers.

She is also in charge of the maintenance of the library’s collections. It’s a behind the scenes part of library work that is incredibly vital – and time consuming – to keep track of the various collections.  Once a week she checks all books and magazines to make sure they aren’t grubby or need to be replaced. She’s come a long way from being a shelver of books to leading Baby Story Time to hosting 80 8th graders at the library recently.

And Lowry? “My husband and two grown boys love the walkability here in Lowry. It’s a great neighborhood (with a fabulous library!), good stores, places to eat and it’s super to be able to live and work in the same area. Besides, there are a lot of books here and incredible events that the library sponsors.”

She recommends you stop by and see the myriad of books, magazines, cds, and the kids area. Or you can check out the library online.

If you need a library card, you’ll have one in minutes. If you’d like a book or a movie or a magazine, stop by the Schlessman Family Branch Library at First and Quebec and check it out. And either of the Kristins are happy to help you. The rest of the library staff is pretty darn good, too – they just don’t live in our ‘hood and are not named Kristin!

Meet Your Lowry Neighbors is a monthly feature written by our intrepid reporter Sally Kurtzmanwho knows everyone in our community. If you have a suggestion for a Meet Your Lowry Neighbor, please send us an email to connect@lowryunitedneighborhoods.org.

Editor’s Note: All the Schlessman Family Library events are published on our LUN Community Calendar. You can find the library listings color-coded in purple.