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Library volunteers in Forsyth honored at reception
Bob Keller, left, visits with fellow Forsyth County Public Library board member Mary Helen McGruder during the volunteer reception Thursday. - photo by Jim Dean

FORSYTH COUNTY — A reception Thursday afternoon recognized the efforts of a specific group of people who work at the local libraries.

The Volunteer Appreciation Reception gathered those who work behind the scenes and in front of the shelves at all four branches in the Forsyth County Public Library System, thanking them for being an integral part in its success.

“The thing about volunteering is that we do it because it’s something that touches our heart,” said Mary Helen McGruder, library board chair. “It’s important to us, and we make a difference.”

She told the group they “keep us No. 1 in the state. The library has always been an important part of Forsyth County, and we can count on that tradition.”

The formal volunteer program started in February 2010. Since that time, volunteers have contributed 26,583 hours to the system, McGruder said.

That’s equal to 2.5 full-time employees working since the program started.

”This time last year, we had 17 active volunteers. As of today, we have 39 active volunteers. This includes 27 year-round volunteers as well as 12 teens who continued volunteering after last summer’s Teen Team program,” she said.

Those active volunteers have contributed 1,643 hours in the first three months of 2015, nearly 450 more than last year.

The volunteers are all assigned to shelving duties, materials processing or both.

Bunny Salter has been a volunteer at Hampton Park for five years, since the branch opened. She works in the materials department, processing books when they are received from the manufacturer, getting them ready for shelving and fixing damaged items.

“Everyone cares about the community here,” Salter said. “The people at the top value everyone, whether they’re workers or volunteers.”

Therese Fajardo has been at the Cumming branch for two years, also working in the materials department.

“I love books,” Fajardo said. “So working at the library is fun. I was looking for something to perk me up, and this fit the bill.”

She went to return a book one day and saw a sign for volunteers. Two years later, she’s still enjoying herself.

“It’s a great atmosphere to work in,” she said. “It cheers me up every time. And it’s good to know you’re helping, so it works both ways.”

The event also celebrated the Forsyth County Public Library Friends and Advocates, a nonprofit group of volunteers that runs three bookstores within branches.

About 125 volunteers have put in more than 16,000 hours at those stores, raising $28,000 this fiscal year for the library system.

Teresa Santangelo, collections support supervisor at the Sharon Forks branch, and Sharon Anderson, who does the same at Post Road, said the library is more like a community, and it also reflects the Forsyth community’s wants.

“We just circulate so many books,” said Santangelo of the library with the second-highest circulation in the state. “We couldn’t do it without them.”