By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – The Big Sky Community Library bid farewell to its beloved founder Kathy House in June after 34 years of service. Danielle Kabisch, the library’s new director, was not only eager to fill her shoes, but had learned under House since 2008, calling her an “incredible mentor.”
Kabisch moved to Big Sky from Minnesota with her growing family in 2004, craving the mountain lifestyle where she had grown up vacationing. She knows the library extends beyond books providing an essential service to residents of all ages, from educational programs to serving as a meeting place for kids to learn and meet friends—Kabisch says it’s where her daughter has met many of her long-lasting friends over the years.
The Big Sky community is growing, and with it the need for vital community services such as the library, and with Kabisch at the helm there is no doubt the Big Sky Community Library will serve the area for years to come.
The following responses have been edited for brevity and style.
Explore Big Sky: Tell us how you ended up in Big Sky?
Danielle Kabisch: My family moved to Big Sky in 2004 from Minneapolis, Minnesota. My husband and I were looking for a change of pace and wanted to live in the mountains. I grew up vacationing often in Big Sky and thought this would be the perfect place to raise our growing family.
EBS: What is your role at the library and how did you first become involved?
D.K.: I’m currently the Director of the Big Sky Community Library. I started working with Kathy House (my incredible mentor and former director) in 2008 as her assistant librarian. I truly enjoyed working with Kathy and learning about how a community library operates. As a result of this experience, I went back to school and earned my graduate certification in Library Media Science. I was then fortunate enough to land a job as the Lone Peak High School librarian and continued to work alongside Kathy. This year, Kathy retired and I transitioned into her position as the director.
EBS: Can you give us some background on the Community Library and how it came to be?
D.K.: Thirty years ago, Kathy House started the library at Ophir School in what was essentially a closet with one bin of picture books and a couple shelves with books for older children. After a lot of hard work, help from our volunteers the Friends of the Library, our community and most importantly funding from Resort Tax, we have a thriving Community Library with many resources available.
EBS: Why is the library is an integral resource for those living in Big Sky?
D.K.: I believe that libraries are cornerstones of the communities they serve. We help our community be more successful, more educated and better citizens. We start with ensuring free and equitable access to books, ideas, resources and information. This is imperative for education, employment and enjoyment. At the Big Sky Community Library, we provide programs that are based on the five tenets of early literacy: playing, singing, talking, reading and writing. We offer programs and additional resources for young adults and adults: Books, magazines, computers, newspapers, databases, language classes, movies, audio, e-books and more.
EBS: Have you seen this change at all as the community grows?
D.K.: Users of the library are seasonal workers [and] visitors, community residents, which include retirees, students, staff and families. All of these users need access to our resources. As our community grows, we see more patrons and usage.
EBS: Now that school has begun, what are some programs or resources you provide students?
D.K.: We offer a weekly themed Storytime for ages 0-5, with occasional special programs every Monday and 10:30 a.m. During the school year we collaborate with the Discovery School in order to provide time for students to access our materials. Because the library is located at the school, we are able to open our doors to the BSSD staff and students. We provide access to computers, reference materials, school research media and, of course, books.
EBS: Who all makes these services possible?
D.K.: Thanks to the Big Sky Resort Tax funding, the library can remain operational!
We also could not operate as successfully without the incredible support from our Friends Of The Library members and Board, the Big Sky School District and the community. If anyone out there would like to become a member or donate to the library you can visit our website at bigskylibrary.com and click the Donate button. Or stop by and see us!
EBS: What is your favorite memory and/or favorite part of the library?
D.K.: My favorite memory is taking my own daughter to the library’s preschool story hour. Every week I would take her to this library where a special theme was presented, incorporating different books, crafts and snacks. The library is where my daughter and I met some of our best friends that we still hold close to this day.
EBS: Is there anything else you want to tell Big Sky about the Community Library?
D.K.: The library hosts author visits [over] the course of the year. Our latest “One Book Big Sky” book is “The Last Green Valley” by Mark Sullivan. We have several books available in the library. Community members can come down to the library and pick a book up before he visits us to discuss his writings. The visit from Mark Sullivan is scheduled for Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the library.
EBS: What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
D.K.: Understand your values and what you stand for. Following these principles increases my confidence and makes it easier to make decisions in life and at work.