April 18, 2018

Donna Walker | Movers & Shakers 2011 – Advocates

Library Journal March 15, 2011: Donna Walker, Mover & Shaker

Fearless Capacity

As project manager for a new .7 million library in a largely immigrant community in the southeast Denver metro area, Donna Walker responded to architects’ proposal for an 11,000 square foot space that “looked like a jail,” she says, by pushing for a 30,000 square foot facility, opened in 2009, that “says we care.” Walker also secured a ,000 grant to add three artworks, including a “crown jewel” of an interactive storyboard for kids.

In the midst of this, Walker’s bookmobile died—and staffers were distributing books from bins in the backs of their cars. Walker dug in, convincing the library board of the need to purchase a new bookmobile and inventing a system for ranking bookmobile sites by need. The new bookmobile resulted in a 107 percent rise in use and provides triple the hours, without more staff.

Walker shepherded these two capital projects on top of her daily duties as manager of neighborhood libraries, outreach, and child and family library services for the Arapahoe Library District in unincorporated Arapahoe County. Walker oversees five facilities across 70 miles. An “exceptional team member and team leader,” Walker “continued to perform her other responsibilities without missing a step,” says Reed Osborne, director of library services.

Walker’s “fearless capacity” makes her a champion of families, children, and the underserved, says Osborne.

Other accomplishments? Hiring Russian- and Spanish-speaking staff who are always at libraries carrying related materials. Creating certificates for incarcerated individuals working at jail libraries that identify their skills—and greatly aid future job searches. Initiating bilingual story times and literacy-building activities for kids while their parents take ESL classes. Improving the materials serving immigrants and new English speakers so much that their turnover now exceeds the average for print English-language materials.

Walker revels in seeking opportunities beyond her role and expertise. “Then I ask to manage the project,” she says. “By doing this, I am in a constant state of learning, growing, and panic.”


Donna Walker, Arapahoe Library District, Centennial, CO

CURRENT POSITION Manager, Neighborhood Libraries, Outreach Services, Child and Family Library Services

DEGREE MLIS, University of Seattle, 2005

GOALAdvancing Nutritional Literacy: “Helping in the campaign to educate people how to eat and live well.”

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