A Ready Reference
Carole Egan’s love of libraries began at an early age. At just 3 and a half years old she remembers the day her mother gave her a library card to the main branch in Albany, NY. To children in the neighborhood, the library was a place to hang out after school. For Carole it was a safe haven. She recalls weekly trips after school, to return and check out new books. When she was older, the Albany Library was where she would spend her time until her mother was back from work. The library was also just a short walk to the Albany Institute of History and Art and the New York State Museum. Carole could make both trips after school. Very quickly, Carole’s love of literature grew. All library lovers can agree-there is something reassuring about rows of book jackets all in place, the comfortable setting reaching out to envelop book lovers and draw them in. During her last year of High School, she applied to work at the library. Figuring if she was there every day anyway, why not? She worked through that year and into her college years. Fast forward to now, and Carole’s love of books is still strong. In keeping up with technology she now has an e-reader, but libraries and books still hold a special place in her heart. “There is just something to be said about the feeling of holding a new book in hand and actually turning the pages,” said Carole. Most book lovers would agree, print still holds its worth.
Shaker Pointe Circulation
When Carole first moved into a Shaker Pointe Cottage, the main community hub was at the Friends Meeting House, a center retrofitted into what would one day become an additional cottage home. Back then, the Library consisted of 3-4 shelves of donated books that evolved from other residents wanting to share or pare down their collections. Naturally, Carole fell into place on what would one day become Shaker Pointe’s Library Committee. Today, the Library Committee has quite a job in keeping up the library spaces around the community. Shaker Pointe has both the Stephen J. Grifferty Library in The Pointe Community Center as well as a smaller library in the Carriage Building Gathering Room. Carole estimates that almost 90% of the books on the shelves are donated, making the collection unique to Shaker Pointe. The remaining 10% of the collection consists of some purchased newer releases, large print editions, and magazine subscriptions. The collection represents a multitude of genres ranging from fiction, travel, autobiographies, and everything in-between.
The collections at Shaker Pointe are categorized, alphabetized, and then sorted by hardcover or paperback. Along the floor under the fiction section there are two baskets, one for donations, and the other for returns. In the early stages, the Library Committee would host donation days, but it grew to be too much to pare down. The books that are not accepted into the collection are donated to Books for Troops or local libraries for their seasonal sales. Many times, residents donate duplicates to the collection, in which case some of the popular prints are doled out to the Carriage Building. Carole demonstrated a snapshot of the procedure picking up a copy of James Patterson’s 15 from the donation basket. The copy, like new, was given the official Property of Shaker Pointe Library seal and then categorized onto the shelf. Once a book is on the shelf, residents operate on the honor system and can take a book out for as long as they’d like, returning it to the returns basket to be shelved by a committee member. Members have designated genres they are in charge of keeping organized. Carole oversees the fiction section, stopping in to check the shelves after attending exercise classes during the week. The committee meets monthly or as needed, each member in turn doing their part to keep the circulation going.
Footnotes for the Future
In moving to Shaker Pointe, Carole went through the process of downsizing her book collection. As any avid reader can attest, this is no easy task when deciding the fate of some of your favorite reads. Carole divulged, “It’s never too early to start paring down.” She sited that it was a process for her. She and her husband held three garage sales before coming to Shaker Pointe. “Find friends or family members who like to read and would take some of your favorites,” Carole recommends. She found that in selling her collection you have to price books cheap if you want them to move. She expressed, “It’s hard, and your books are very special to you, some you read again and again.” Passing on a good read to someone who will enjoy it seems to have helped Carole. In retelling her downsizing journey she recounts it as something that had to be done, a process that is now a distant memory. Carole shared that what was left of her collection she was able to donate to the Colonie Library as well. Carole sold her bookshelves and now her books decorate in small stacks around her cottage. Some collecting on her nightstand in queue for the next read, others are purposefully placed to decorate areas like the sun porch. A dedicated reader for life, you can still find Carol turning the pages of a historical fiction novel, her favorite genre. She states, “I love reading about places I’ve traveled to and reading about life in places like Ireland, France, and Italy.” Here at Shaker Pointe her own bookshelves may be gone, but Carole’s collection has grown rich from the community at Shaker Pointe.
2 thoughts on “Cataloging a Community”
Thanks for doing these blogs, Kate!
Very interesting article (and not just because Carole is my mom)!