The Bookmark About Libraries and Friends

by Jill Forman

Just for fun, and to honor more of the volunteers behind the scenes who keep things running, I decided to rerun my first-ever article for the Breeze.

The Wizards of the Warehouse (originally run August 2015)

They don’t look like wizards, this group of mostly-older people quietly moving around among piles and shelves and tables and bags and boxes…….not of some magical potions, but of books and media.  Yet these folks weave magic all their own.  They transform donations of books, CDs and DVDs into programs for children, lectures for adults, teen group activities, library supplies, new reading material for everyone, and many other wondrous things.

These wizards are the book sorters for the Ventura Friends of the Library.  Working in a small warehouse space with an estimated 20,000 items, with up to 30 boxes a week coming in, they inspect and sort and price each book.  Between three to twelve of them show up weekly, mostly retired people in their 70’s (up to age 88!) and work their magic.  Items are shelved by category, subject, dates, condition, and so on.  It is a miraculous effort and the results are amazing.

Friends of the Library donated $68,151.00, to the E.P. Foster, Avenue and Saticoy Libraries last year (2014) for special programs, materials and equipment: through book sales, the E.P. Foster Library Bookstore, Amazon On-Line Sales, memberships, donations, and interest. The Friends of the Library also contribute to a Capital Improvement Fund, for future library buildings or improvements, and an Endowment Fund.

Though mostly retired, among the workers gathered there one Friday was a teacher, a nurse, and a stay-at-home parent.  The wizards used to work at much more ordinary occupations:  accountant, product manager, librarian (of course,) retail sales, contract administrator, and in a school office.  All these jobs have one thing in common: making order out of the normal disorder of life, be it someone’s bookkeeping, a manufacturing plant, student records, or the chaos of an Emergency Room. Marvels of organization in themselves, these jobs translate well into turning discards into wonderful collections and programs at our libraries for the citizens of Ventura.

If you would like to join this endeavor, email the Friends at info@sbfol.org (current email for volunteering is bookstore@venturafriendsofthelibrary.org) The Friends welcome donations of books in good condition (no magazines or encyclopedias please), DVD’s, and CD’s.  There are donation boxes provided at the libraries (NOT THESE DAYS DUE TO COVID – CURRENT INFO ON THE VFOL WEBSITE.)  You can contribute by joining the Friends of the Library, and you may purchase gift memberships as well – the website is sanbuenaventurafriendsofthelibrary.org (now venturafriendsofthelibrary.org) You can also make a donation to the Capital Improvement or Endowment Funds. The Friends are a 501(c)3 and all donations are tax deductible.

As the wizards say: “I love books;” “This is a good way to volunteer;” “It’s great to be with people with like interests;” “I like to organize;” “Books are my passion;” “Love to recycle books;” “Many hands make light work.” “Want to share my love of reading with others and give them a chance to have books;” “I think the Friends of the Library are great.”

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