Katrina Kmak bubbles with enthusiasm, a quality that makes her the perfect youth services librarian. She sees her role as embodying two essential needs — the first is to connect with people and the second is to educate Park City’s young community.
Before Katrina found Park City, she lived a life of traveling and acting. She worked in Pennsylvania acting in interactive murder mystery weekends and performing seasonally in Denali National Park for Princess Cruises. On a whim, she started a job with Deer Valley Resort working in the children’s center. What started out as a one-season gig, ended up being the start of Katrina’s life in her new home. After years of floating around, Katrina finally found her place.
She says she remembers thinking, “I think this is it! This feels really good to recognize and know people and see people’s children grow up. It feels really good to have community … This is filling up the part of my heart space that I need.”
Soon after she made the decision to stay, the puzzle pieces of life began falling into place. She started her job at the library and participated in Park City Follies, where she met her now-husband John Burdick. “Everything snowballed into this life that I never even imagined could happen, and I can’t imagine it any other way now,” she says.
Katrina uses her acting and singing skills to enrich her role as youth librarian — a job that requires high energy and a child-like outlook on the world. It is here that she most embodies her role as the Mary Poppins of Park City — a moniker that is all too fitting.
“Why do I want to keep making magic? Because magic is where it’s at! If there is no magic, no sparkle, no joy, then why do it?” she exclaims.
This sprinkle of magic instantly uplifts anyone she comes in contact with; she sees every interaction as an opportunity to “make people feel safe and loved, and know that they can do anything they want.”
This focus on empowerment pairs well with her work at the library, where education and understanding can provoke change. She sees herself as a knowledge guide who helps young people access information that might broaden or change their worldview. This is particularly important — and tricky — in our current climate, where certain books may be seen as offensive or examples of cultural appropriation.
“Our perspective is changing the more we learn as a society,” she explains, noting that it is crucial she asks the tough questions: “What is our place as a library? Do we weed books with inappropriate content? Or do we use them as teachable moments?”
To this end, Katrina makes a point to purchase books for the library that represent different kinds of people. She explains, “For me as a librarian, I want to make sure there are people of different races, people of varying abilities, and people of different gender identities that are writing the books and represented in the books.”
From animated story times with little ones, to facing the questions and concerns of adolescents, Katrina’s job is multifaceted and much more complex than it might initially seem. Through it all, Katrina’s tangible enthusiasm seeps through — whether she’s on-stage, interacting with a library patron, or having an open, honest conversation with a teen. It all comes back to her true passion and life’s work — “All of my flavors stem down to connecting with people. I love people. That is what feeds my soul.”