When The Neighborhood in Rio Rancho first opened in April 2016, the community library was also born. An administrator helped get it started, and four residents in the retirement community volunteered to take care of the day-to-day. Once it was up and running, the administrator took more of a backseat, and when she retired, the library at the Neighborhood in Rio Rancho became officially autonomous and completely run by the residents!
In May 2016, Sue and her husband Omar moved into the Neighborhood, and that’s when Sue joined in to help with the library, just for the love of books!
Since the library is run completely on donations, the volunteers’ job is to get together and organize the donations that their fellow seniors bring in and check to see which ones were already in the collection and no longer needed in the rotation. They donate the old and bring in the new! The Library consists mainly of fiction, history, biographies, memoirs, and also a large collection of coffee table books.
Currently, there are now two people who run the community library: Sue and Beverley. Almost every day of the week, they head down to the library and make sure it’s straightened out, make sure books are in the proper places, and check for any new donations. When there are enough “new” books. Sue creates labels on her computer and then attaches them to the spines of the books.
They decided from the beginning to not have a card catalog, and they pride themselves on having a library that has zero paperwork! All borrowing is based on the honor system, and occasionally they put a little note in the Neighborhood newsletter, asking fellow community residents to check around their apartments and see if they have anything that has the library label on it and return it for others to read.
When others in independent living donate ‘new to us’ books, Sue and Beverley put them in a special section on top of the shelves, with a sign that says something like “Take a look at the new books”. Since the library regulars are very familiar with all the books, they make sure to keep the “new” ones highlighted when they first come in.
Beverley and Sue keep it informal: if they need to make a decision, “we give each other a call and make a plan to meet. We’ve been doing this for almost 7 years.” Their communication is simple and clear!
When they get donations, Beverley and Sue decide together what should be included on the shelves or donated to the non-profit Friends of Libraries and Literacy which owns a second-hand book store–Books– in Rio Rancho. Sue and her husband also volunteer once a week there as well.
Volunteering in the Community
Thursday afternoons Sue and her husband Omar take their laptop and head over to “Books” and research books that are in an “of interest” pile. They research the books–on Amazon, BookFinder, and eBay–to see if anyone values them. Mostly they’re not worth anything, but they always check out what is handed their way anyways just in case there is a hidden gem.
Just recently someone found a book that looked very interesting, a book about an aviation man who jumped out of planes without parachutes to see how fast he could do it. Sue and Omar found out it was worth a lot and it was sold for about $300!
When you love books as much as Sue, Omar, and Beverley do, you volunteer just for the joy of it being around books.