Fairbanks to put final book on shelf

Jul 14, 2014
Jane Fairbanks

Tenants Harbor — Jane Fairbanks, who has been a volunteer at the Jackson Memorial Library for 30 years, has decided to put the final book on the shelf.

Fairbanks was far more than a regular volunteer. She was instrumental in developing procedures and practices that became critical to the operations of the library. Last year as the Jackson Memorial Library transitioned to its new building many changes occurred.

One of the biggest changes was when Fairbanks decided to slow down and gave up working as the book organizer for the annual library book sale. There was more than a little angst. Her job was, and is huge. She had set up an organized system of classifying books, that would eventually allow the books to be set out easily for sale. Knowing she needed to prepare for the future, in typical Jane-style, she solicited, found and trained a replacement who could take on this formidable task and move forward with a system that has become straight forward, if a person just follows the system.

The book fair began as a way of raising money for the library to purchase new books more than 30 years ago. Over time it has grown to includes art sales, raffles, bake sales and treasures. As a part of the St. George Days celebration, it has become something everyone looks forward to and has marked on their calendars.

The book fair has grown considerably over time. More than 300 totes are stacked in the new library. These totes hold more than 6,000 books. Over 30 years means 150,000 books have been collected, sorted and put out for sale. The books are now also for sale in the dry basement of the new library on a year-round basis.

Working in a library began for Fairbanks when she was a high school student and needed a summer job. Once she retired from teaching and moved to Tenants Harbor with her husband, Bob, she found volunteering in a small town was a natural and easy transition. Seeing the smiles of people as they pick out a new book has always made her feel the work behind the scenes was worth it, according to a news release.

What many people don’t realize is the collection of books is a year-round project that begins anew the day after the annual fair is over. When Fairbanks took on the task almost 30 years ago she collected boxes and bags of books that were dropped off at her house, the library and various places in town and would carry them to an 8-by-12 room in the musty cellar of the former library. There she would work several days a week, sorting and placing in pre-identified cardboard boxes all the donations. Books are organized by category, and author.

Every year in early July, a call goes out for volunteers to help with the annual book fair. Volunteers are asked to come on Friday to help set up the books for the annual sale the next day., and every year at a designated time a small group of about 30 hardy helpers arrive, some wearing gloves, and some wearing back braces, lining up in a fire line. Volunteers in the fog and the mist they might appear to be. After warm welcomes and smiles are exchanged it’s time to get busy. Suddenly a head pops up from the cellar and everyone cheers. Enough volunteers have arrived to begin, and for the next hour or so, books in plastic totes are brought out and placed under tents in predetermined and assigned spots.

The next morning, well before the announced time of opening, those who truly know, line up with bags and cash in hand, waiting anxiously for the tapes to be taken down and the treasures to be served up. Everyone from tourists on vacation, to teachers looking for classroom library finds, to collectors , to locals looking for that special book, arrive and scour the inventory.

Although still a work in progress, the collecting and inventorying of books has become easier since moving to the new library. Thanks to the tireless work that Jane has put in over the years a system exists for future volunteers to follow that makes the collecting and sorting of books much easier.

The public is invited to the library Saturday, July 19 during St. George Days.

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