Jane Fairbanks Calls It A Day After 30 Years At The Jackson Memorial Library

Jane Fairbanks who has been a volunteer at the Jackson Memorial Library for thirty 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 Jane 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 incredibly 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 you just follow the system. 
The book fair began as a way of raising money for the library to purchase new books over thirty 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.

As I sat and talked with Jane about the book fair it became apparent  how large the book collection had become over time.  Over three hundred totes are stacked in the new library. These totes hold over 6000 books. Over thirty years that 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 Jane 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 here 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 Jane feel the work behind the scenes was worth it.

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 Jane took on the task almost thirty 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 eight by twelve 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.  This takes enormous amounts of time.   Today the books are kept in pre-marked plastic bins.

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 thirty 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 so we can 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.

So we thank you Jane for your spirit of volunteerism and for making the book fair a great success. and we hope to see you all July 19 at the library during St. George Days.