Smith Brothers Restaurants
HomeCity NewsVolunteers Honored at Library Event

Volunteers Honored at Library Event

First published in the April 15 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

About 50 residents met over coffee, tea and pastries at round tables with linen tablecloths and vases of fresh flowers in the Community Room in the South Pasadena Public Library last week.

Attendees gathered to recognize contributions made by volunteer members of the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library. The library’s five-member board of trustees and the library sponsored the event.

South Pasadena’s Union Bakery and Heirloom Bakery provided a buffet of sweets. Pandemic protocols had been relaxed, so guests chose not to wear masks.

Mayor Michael Cacciotti, Councilwoman Evelyn Zneimer and former Councilman Bob Joe attended, as did City Manager Arminé Chaparyan and members of her staff.

Dean Serwin, president of the board of trustees, and trustees Bianca Richards, Kenny Gross and F.J. Pratt were there, as well. In addition, former trustees Brendan Durrett and David Uwins attended.

About 60 volunteers with the Friends group support the city’s public library year-round. Most of them work in the Friends’ bookstore, located in the library, where they sort, price, shelve and sell donated books and materials.

Some volunteers serve on the Restoration Concerts Committee, a group that organizes a popular musical series. Others are part of the organization’s board.

This is the first time since 2019 that the previously annual recognition event has been held. Pandemic-related restrictions and the closure of the library made it impossible to schedule the occasion in 2020 and 2021.

Almost 22,000 hours were donated by adult and youth volunteers from 2019-2021, according to the event program. The bookstore’s income totaled more than $78,000 during that time. More than 1,200 people attended the concert series.

Cacciotti said the day was deemed “Library Volunteer Recognition Day” in South Pasadena. Speaking at a City Council meeting, he acknowledged the impact made by volunteers working with the concert series, in the bookstore, on the board of trustees and in other capacities.

Cathy Billings, library director, said this is “an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role that libraries, librarians, library workers and volunteers play. … This is a perfect day for our celebration, given that it is National Library Week.”

Bianca Richards, former president of the library’s board of trustees, said, “Without volunteering, the system just doesn’t work,” and added that she volunteered with the Friends last year.

“I helped out at the book sales, and I had a wonderful time. I finally got to meet so many of you,” she said. “The library is very close and dear to me, and I really appreciate all that you do for the library.”

Before the pandemic shutdown, Volunteers of the Year were announced at each annual event. This year, recipients of the award were chosen by the Friends’ board for 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Nancy Sanchez, who serves as the bookstore’s finance officer, was the 2019 Volunteer of the Year. She tracks and reports the bookstore’s income and expenses, according to the event program.

Ellen Torres was the 2020 Volunteer of the Year. She has served in various roles on the Friends’ board of directors and is its current president and operations director.

Karen Bell and Karen Weinstock, co-chairs of the Friends’ bookstore, are the 2021 Volunteers of the Year.

Billings also expressed her appreciation to Kay Rosser and Kathy Folsom, who stepped down in 2021 as longstanding co-chairs of the Restoration Concerts Committee.

Billings also recognized five women who retired from long-held bookstore leadership positions — Mary Bart, Sue Hitchcock, Donna Potts, Marcia Sainer and Jane Schirmeister. Members of the entire Restoration Concerts Committee and the bookstore committee were also recognized during the program.

The event featured South Pasadena-focused presentations, too. Ron Koertge, the city’s Poet Laureate, read his 2019 poem, “Ode to South Pasadena,” and described how he created it with suggestions from the community.

Keynote speaker Olivia Radbill, adult services and local history librarian, described early South Pasadena history, focusing on the Rialto Theatre, the Cawston Ostrich Farm and the evolution of a public library. She displayed a series of historic photographs of these landmarks on a theater-sized screen.

Radbill asked if anyone in the audience had frequented the library when it was still located in the original Carnegie Library, now the library’s Community Room and event space. Quite a few people raised their hands.

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]