Friday, April 1, 2011

Library Bee

   People often ask us what we do with all our free time. Besides goofing off a lot, we do some volunteering. When we are in Monteverde we go to the work party every Monday afternoon at the Friends' Library.
This free library open to everyone is next to the school and meeting house that the Quaker community has in Monteverde. It's the only library in the area and is run with a miniscule budget. Almost all books and labor are donated so it's quite amazing that it has some 20,000 books. That's even more amazing when Jean, who has a Masters in Library Science and has been leading efforts at the library for decades, estimates that each book represents about 45 minutes of work to catalog and prepare. Most of the collection is in English, because that's what most of the donations are. There is a real need for more Spanish language books.
   On a typical Monday afternoon about 6 volunteers are working away at reshelving books and preparing books for the collection. There's always a backlog of books awaiting our attention. The store room of donations usually looks like this. Sometimes the task seems sisyphean. (Although we like it that so many people check out books from the library.)
 Recently Jean organized a bee and invited other people to get a bunch of books on the shelf. During the afternoon some 20 people stopped by to help out, including high school students from the Friends School. Here's one group at work by the wall that holds the Spanish collection.
After the bee the store room looked like this. See all those empty shelves? Let's just ignore that pile of boxes on the left for now.
   The library is a bit of a time capsule. Because it is open for many hours on a self-service basis, there is no computer available. The catalog is a on cards in a wooden case. To check out a book, you sign your name on a card. It's a bit quaint and many of us would like a more modern system, but it works. I always find plenty of interesting books to read.
  People often ask if they can donate books. Of course, if you are in Monteverde and have a nice book to leave behind, it's welcome. But please don't bother to mail books; someone needs to drive several hours to pick them up at customs and there is often a hefty customs fee. Donations of money are always appreciated and you could specify what your donation should go towards, such as to purchase Spanish language books or essential library supplies. Go to this link for information about donating. If you are in Monteverde on a Monday afternoon (from about 2 to 4), you are invited to come and help. You can meet some locals and also get one of Susie's cookies.


lindsay said...

OK, so this is good to know. I went to the library about a month ago, and "checked out" some books... but no one was there and I didn't know about the card system. So, I have the books -- with their cards inside them!! Now I will know for next time. :)

Carolina said...

Theoretically, books are due in a month. In fact, once or twice a year they try to get overdues back. Of course, if you don't leave the card behind, there's no paper trail....

Trudy said...

I just finished ordering 12 books from the Madison library via computer....but browsing the shelves and writing out the checkout cards also works...

And I especially like your comment "besides goofing off a lot"......I have been doing that too.

Snowy day here in Madison, turned to rain later. But I heard my first of the year Kildeer in the Hilldale Mall parking lot.

Carolina said...

Wow a Kildeer. We still have a lot of migrants coming through: Swainson's thrushes, warblers, spotted sandpipers, etc. My favorite thing about the Madison library: none of the books are moldy.