Volunteer Spirit: Love of books provides Brown with way to give back

Tressa Brown is a volunteer at the Paul Sawyier Public Library. She’s pictured here in one of the “cages” in the basement of the 319 Wapping St. facility. She works sorting books that are donated to the library, most ultimately ending up for sale in the bookstore operated by the Friends of the Library. (Photo by Phil Case)

Tressa Brown has simple advice for those who want to give some of their time: “Find something you’re interested in and just volunteer.”

A cultural anthropologist who works for the Heritage Council, Brown says she goes to the library for a few hours each week and volunteers in the “cages” located in the drive-through area under the facility. Patrons drop off used books to be categorized and offered in either the Friends of the Paul Sawyier Public Library’s bookstore or at the book sale, which is scheduled for June 4-8.

Volunteers who work in the “cages,” all members of the Friends, categorize the books according to subject and designate them to be shelved and sold in the bookstore or boxed for an upcoming sale. She’s been volunteering for about four years.

In her position with the Heritage Council, Brown coordinates the Kentucky African American Commission, the Kentucky Native American Commission and the Martin Luther King Commission. She lives in the small community of Burgin in Mercer County and does volunteer work there, too.

In addition to volunteering, she’s a strong advocate for the value of Paul Sawyier Public Library, believing there’s still a place for hardbound and paperback books in the digital age.

“I love reading and books and enjoy holding the book that I’m reading,” she said. “Working here sorting the books gives me the opportunity to have first dibs on what’s available.”

She enjoys seeing parents select books with their children, reading them and pointing out the illustrations.

Brown says the library has something for everyone from infants to seniors. “In addition to books, there are programs and classes for people, videos, DVDs, CDs, music, classic books, old books – the list just goes on.

“People who don’t use the library don’t realize how much it is used.” And how much they are missing.

The Friends organization to which she belongs provides a great service to the library, operating the bookstore and the book sales being the most visible to the community. “Folks in the Friends have from a few to a lot of hours to give — and every hour helps,” Brown said.

In addition to donations, there are books that come off the shelves of the library and are offered for sale in the bookstore. “They may be extras from multiple-copy purchases or books that haven’t been checked out in a long time.”

Because of state government providing many workers the opportunity to retire when they are in their late 50s or 60s, there is a deep pool of talented volunteers who have extra time on their hands — and lots of knowledge and talent.

“If someone wants to volunteer here, all they need to do is walk in and ask anyone at the desk,” Brown said. “Help is always needed — especially at book sale time.”

Recommended for you

Load comments