Holiday heroes: volunteers make difference at library
by Patricia Walsh
Dec 19, 2012 | 1780 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mike Horvath keeps reservation stacks in impeccable order and helps with the Friends of the Library book-sale room at the Hervey/Point Loma Branch Library. Photos by Patricia Walsh I The Beacon
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The season of giving is a good time to remember that not all gifts come wrapped with a bow. Year-round volunteers in the Peninsula community give of their time and talent to bring programs, parades and parties to life.

Behind the scenes at the Point Loma/Hervey Branch Library, elves of sorts are always in motion making their magic to help provide a long list of services that keep the library at the heartbeat of the community.

“Keeping the library going is so important because so many people are reading online,” said Ken Knoll, 56, a volunteer who has been processing books at the library for the last year. “Libraries aren’t as popular as they used to be, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here in Point Loma.”

The popularity of the Point Loma branch library extends beyond books to a plethora of programs like arts and crafts, the annual End of the Summer Reading Program Carnival, Halloween Spooktacular Parade, Gingerbread Decorating Program and End of School Year Teen Event.

The library has a base of about 60 volunteers from high school students to retirees. About 35 folks assist in the Friends of the Library book sale room and the rest make it possible to keep programs, according to branch manager Christine Gonzalez. Their responsibilities run the gamut of working with staff to create booklists, searching for books that have been ordered by patrons and need to be sent to other branches, processing mailings, sorting/shelving library materials, preparing reading incentive packets, creating bulletin boards and guiding activities.

Joyce Veskerna and Shelby Goad can be found every Thursday working with preschoolers and their parents at the weekly arts and crafts hour. On a recent Thursday, they were using paper plates, cotton balls and stickers to make snow globes.

“It keeps me so busy that I don’t feel old,” said Veskerna, 72. “If I was sitting at home watching TV I would feel old.”

Veskerna, who remembers teaching school in a one-room school house in Nebraska in 1957, also volunteers at St. Agnes, where she teaches Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes.

“Volunteers make all the difference,” said Marta Brandes-Miesner, library assistant and volunteer coordinator. “Joyce and Shelby and the high school volunteers enable us to have more programs for the kids. If I didn’t have volunteers I probably wouldn’t be able to do crafts every week.”

Kirby True and Mike Horvath both help process books. Horvath, who also lends a hand with Friends of the Library book sale, keeps reserved books shelved in impeccable order and labels new books from the central library. He also donates his time at Lindbergh Field assisting visitors at the travelers aid desk.

A San Diego native who has lived in the Peninsula community all his life, Horvath, 78, said he volunteers for the satisfaction.

“I enjoy knowing people enjoy books,” he said. “And I hope I’m saving the library money by being here.”

In fiscal year 2012, volunteers contributed nearly 4,300 hours of service to the Hervey/Point Loma Branch Library, according to Gonzalez. The estimated value of volunteer time for 2011 is $21.79 per hour, she said.

Giving at the library also extends to local business whose donations support the volunteer appreciation events, according to Aida Welch, library clerk. Recognition events are supported by The Venetian Restaurant, EC Gallery, Little Caesars Pizza, Stumps Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, Nati’s Mexican Restaurant and Cupcakes Squared.

And, of course, the tone of giving for the branch library on Voltaire Street was set by James Edgar and Jeanne Jessop Hervey. Their personal contribution of $5 million helped remodel the library that opened in 2003 at five times the size of the previous building.

Garcia invites people interested in volunteering as part of a “dynamic, hard working and fun loving library team” to contact Brandes-Miesner at (619) 531-1539.
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