Volunteers have played an important role providing Johnson County Library services for seven decades. In the early 1950s, the Prairie School PTA Library Committee determined the need for a county-wide library system. Those volunteers created libraries in business storefronts with donated books and worked to secure public funding. Volunteerism is still key to the Library’s success. Today’s volunteers help in dozens of ways: they shelve holds, assist genealogy patrons in research, sell used books and serve leadership roles on the Boards of Directors. The global pandemic tried but couldn’t stop the dedicated volunteers. In 2020 551 volunteers contributed 21,683 hours of service valued at $590,000, according to independentsector.org. That’s 10 full-time employees’ worth of time!
The strengths of Johnson County Library’s volunteer program are the people who serve, especially the many longtime, dedicated volunteers. In April 2020 the Library honored five outstanding community members for their lifetime volunteer achievement. Together, these volunteers have contributed more than 31,155 hours of service – and counting. Let’s meet some of them.
Louise Weller | 7,698 hours
Louise has been cashiering at Antioch Bookstore and sorting donations for more than 13 years. “Louise was invaluable to me when I started as manager, because she has so much experience,” says Becky Epperson, Bookstore Manager. Louise has developed relationships with customers, suggested books for them and always has time for a chat. As primary sorter at the donation facility, she is always on the lookout for items for the Johnson County Genealogy Society local history collection. Louise is a recipient of the Friends’ Shankel Award for Outstanding Service.
Alice Edwards | 6,230 hours
Alice is a wealth of historical knowledge about the Friends. Looking for a way to exercise, she responded to a volunteer ad posted in a Library window – 21 years ago! Alice has staffed Friends book sales, the sorting center and the sales planning committee. She is a strong advocate for the Library and served three terms as a Friends board member, one as board President. “I have loved volunteering and sorting books and have always felt that helping the Library helps the whole county and everyone in it.”
Larry Leighton | 6,045 hours
Larry has been volunteering for over eight years in the online sales division. He lists, ships and manages inventories. Before COVID-19, Larry was a daily presence, then started to monitor orders from home. Last year, the Friends switched to a new software for processing online orders. Larry quickly picked up on the process and even developed a plan to remove old material from warehouse shelves. According to Friends Business and Online Sales Manager Matt Delaney, “My job would be much tougher without him.”
Tedy Bellos | 5,623 hours
Tedy turned her passions for books and cats into volunteer service. She started when the Friends’ operations were at the Antioch branch. Tedy is the master researcher of vintage books for the online sales division, and helps generate excellent sales. Figuring out the true value of an autographed book and the best sales venue are Tedy’s gifts. Tedy is known by all the volunteers who affectionately refer to her workstation as “Tedy’s computer” – identifiable by the many festooned cat illustrations!
Ruth Nowack | 5,560 hours
There are no volunteers, and few librarians, who know as much about children’s literature as does Ruth. She knows which are popular and what to hold on to for making more valuable sets, such as the Harry Potter series. She has volunteered for Libraries all over the county since 2003, and recruited her husband to volunteer, too! Ruth is a recipient of the Friends’ Shankel Award for Outstanding Service. “Working in the children’s area of our book sales, you get great smiles and hugs from kids who find the book they have been looking for.”
To learn more about becoming a Johnson County Library Volunteer and to see all of the available opportunities, visit jocolibrary.org/support/help.
Johnson County Library – Nurturing the Community’s Collective Wisdom