Lavern Smith had to quit her job at the Sharon Forks Library in south Forsyth to focus on a second job, but she could only stay away for six months.
“It’s not pressure to work here. To volunteer is just nice and relaxing, being around the books and seeing the interactions with kids. I like to be on the children’s section,” said the library volunteer who was among the group honored last week for the contributions for the Forsyth County Public Library system at an annual reception.
Smith started working for the library in 2008 and stayed for five years before becoming a volunteer after her six-month break.
The reception, held at Post Road Library, celebrated the people who help, as Smith said, put funding back to the books.
“My hours that save from salary or benefits, you know, you can buy some series that the kids love — that I still love — audiobooks,” she said. “It just helps out with funds.”
Volunteers hours spent helping shelve books and process new titles and items equaled about 20 paid employees, said Mary Helen McGruder, chair of the library board.
Teenage volunteers accounted for about 2,100 hours last year, and adults put in tens of thousands of hours.
Volunteers also run the Friends of the Library bookstores — they are now in three of the county’s four library branches — said Stephen Kight, assistant director for public services.
Last year, these stores brought in about $38,000 for the library to spend on programs, including author visits, events and prizes for summer reading programs.
The idea of a library and what is in it has changed over the years, evident, Smith said, but the technology in each branch.
“You see how the library is with people who probably don’t have computers or technology at home. You have people there where you see a group of kids studying, interaction with all these programs, and you see kids line up to go to all these programs,” she said. “You can learn a different language at the library, and it don’t cost you anything but a library card. And that’s free.”
Anna Lyle, the library system’s director, said 70 teenagers will be volunteering over the summer. They had so many want to help out that they could not accept everyone who signed up.
Over anything, Smith said, she just enjoys being around the books and helping out.
“I don’t see a reason not to,” she said. “I know what little help [they have]. Somebody to put the books in order, someone puts the carts out there. Any little thing to help somebody else to make the job easier.”
Online editor Jim Dean contributed to this story.