About ten years ago Rochester resident, Judy Williams, retired from her career as a full-time surgery nurse and soon discovered she needed a volunteer opportunity to help her fill her time.

van dorm sponsorThat is when she started working at the Community Library in Rochester, where patrons can borrow books without checking them out and return them when they are finished.

“It’s on the honor system,” says Judy, who chose to be a librarian because she has a love of books and reading.

Rochester library
Volunteer librarian Judy Williams enjoys time to read during her shift. Photo credit: Virginia Schnabel

“I like books and the people who come in here. I’m in touch with the community, and it’s peaceful here,” says Judy. She says that she likes to hold a real book in her hands and turn the pages.

“I really don’t like e-readers, so working in a library allows me to explore the pages of new donations as they come in, which is a benefit of this position,” explains Judy.

Her duties include monitoring the library and restrooms, helping patrons find books and watering the library’s potted plants. She also keeps the library tidy and book shelves organized but says that she has plenty of time during her three-hour shift to read, which is her favorite part of the job.

Judy also enjoys getting to know patrons who come on a regular basis, like Thomas Ryan, who walks to the library while his kids, Ruthie and Connor, ride their bikes.

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Rochester Community Library patrons Thomas, Ruthie and Connor Ryan enjoy reading books together at the library. Photo credit: Virginia Schnabel

Thomas explains that he is a retired Marine who enjoys reading books about the military, especially the Marines, as well as books on history, and says he finds plenty to read at the Rochester library.

“I visit this library twice a week. I like the free computer access, and my kids love the books. I can also walk to this location. One time I was reading a book on history and found the name of my best friend’s grandfather in it,” says Thomas, saying what a thrill it was for him to find a personal connection in a book he was reading.

The library includes a children’s section with books, puzzles and games and a section with DVD’s and VHS tapes for borrowing. The library is funded and operated as a volunteer community library, but it falls within the Timberland Regional Library, (TRL) system. As part of the TRL, the library hosts a kiosk where patrons can order books from within the TRL system and have them delivered to the Rochester library.

Rochester library
Rochester Community Library hosts a kiosk for patrons to order books from the Timberland Regional Library system. Photo credit: Virginia Schnabel

A TRL library card is required to use this service, but patrons can return their books to the Rochester site by placing them in the TRL drop box, including those borrowed on the honor system from the Rochester library. The drop box is available any time, but the library is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. A children’s story time is hosted on site the first and third Mondays at 10:00 a.m., and a parenting class is offered on site the second and fourth Mondays of the month.

Books, games, puzzles and DVD’s for the library are all donated by the community, which means new donations are always needed. The library prefers hard-cover books of any genre. To help fund the library, books and VHS tapes are available for sale.

Judy is one of about eight current volunteers. Some are regulars, while others fill in as subs when regular volunteers are unavailable.

“There have been times when we’ve had to put a sign on the door saying the library was closed because we didn’t have any volunteers, so there is opportunity for more people to get involved,” suggests Judy.

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Rochester Community Library is open two days a week and is located next to ROOF. Photo credit: Virginia Schnabel

“This is a comfortable, safe environment, even though I’m by myself, sort of,” says Judy, explaining that ROOF, (Rochester Organization of Families) is right next door, where the library’s volunteer coordinator, Gabrielle Davis, is employed as ROOF’s Kids’ Place Program Manager.

Judy says that more computers and printers are needed for patrons’ use, so donations of these items in good working order are also welcome.

The library is located at 10201-10301 179th Ave SW in Rochester. Patrons can call the library at 360-858-7086, but Judy suggests that for more information about volunteering or making donations, interested parties should contact Garbrielle Davis at 360-273-6375.

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