Volunteerism strong at Kingsport Public Library

December 30, 2010Library_News.JPG

Charlie, one of seven canines that volunteer to help children to improve their reading skills at the Kingsport Public Library

KINGSPORT -- Seventy-five volunteers, including seven canines and their handlers, logged 2,133 hours at the Kingsport Public Library in 2010, an investment of time and energy valued at more than $44,000.

"It would be impossible to meet the needs of our customers without the support of our library volunteers," Library Manager Helen Whittaker said Thursday. "We all work hard to stretch our budgets and provide the best possible services at the lowest possible cost. Without our Library volunteers, there is no way we could meet that mission and offer the variety of programming we currently offer."

So, who are these volunteers and what did they do?

Volunteers at circulation are busy shelving materials, notifying patrons about overdue books, book availability and the arrival of requested books, and creating duplicate barcodes to put on the front of books to speed future checkout.

In particular, the Kingsport Public Library would like to commend June Presley, Cecil Frye, Mary Lou Townsend, Betty Casey, Dottie Shockley and Barbara Maston for their tireless effort in circulation.

Meanwhile, cataloging, a critical task to maintain a properly functioning library, featured the assistance of BreAnna Gordon, Gracie Rossie, and Jolly Hill, who also assists the Archives with sorting and filing.

"Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State for a reason, and no where is that more readily visible than here at the Kingsport Public Library," Whittaker said.

Volunteers in reference participated in several special projects that may prove particularly lasting in benefit to the community.

One project involves inputting cemetery data from old catalog cards into Excel. The cemetery project started years ago by collecting information from tombstone inscriptions in Sullivan County cemeteries.

"By transferring the information into Excel, the public will be able to search this information online by cemetery name and family name," Whittaker said. "This database often includes birth and death dates, family names and relationships as well as tombstone inscriptions. Having this data online will help immensely with those who are doing genealogy research."

Meanwhile, a similar project is indexing newspaper obituaries from 1977 through 1986. Older newspaper obits are already indexed online in the Archives section of the library website, while more recent obituaries are available online at the Kingsport Times-News website. This project, which was started by Edward Elam, will serve those delving into their family roots for years by filling the gap.

Jo Anne Medlin, Patricia Ringley, Suzanne Burow, Sandra McAninch, Linda Odum and Susan Hoover, who also helps with computer classes, are all hard at work, donating their time to complete these two projects, which will soon be available online at www.kingsportlibrary.org.

Reference staff spends a lot of time helping the public with resumes, and their efforts are now bolstered by David Redd, who provides free, one-on-one help to patrons preparing resumes, job applications and cover letters, as well as those who are trying to develop job search strategies.

Since many federal forms are only available online and many people lack computer skills, volunteer Jack VandeVate assists in filling out those forms – particularly online social services applications such as unemployment and disability.

The Library also features a homebound delivery program run entirely by volunteers, who provide more than 300 items per month to those who can’t readily access the library.

Rita Perry and Katherine McDaniel pull the books weekly for delivery volunteers

And the 15 fifteen drivers who deliver materials each month include Lois Felix, Donna McMillan, Susie Mishkin, Linda Morawetz, Heather Nicely, Vince Nicely, Glenda O’Neal, Leslie Owen, Barbara Hoskins, Sharon Siirola, Marjorie Sink, Lee Johnson, Phil Steadman, Sue Steadman, and Joyce Winstead.

Youth Services is a particularly fast growing area for the Kingsport Library, and 37 volunteers provide some of the most unique services in the region as the Library works to establish a lasting love of reading in youth. For their efforts in Youth Services, the Library would like to thank Teresa Brickey, Farrah Carter, David Foudy, Carl Gulley and Matthew Parker, Whittaker said.

Also volunteering under the Youth Services umbrella were six volunteers with seven certified therapy dogs. The free reading sessions are one-on-one with the dog and last 20 minutes, and are designed for independent readers in grades 1-5.

"Studies have shown that reading to dogs helps children improve reading skills and build self-confidence," Whittaker said. "It’s fun and the children do not feel judged by the dog. If the child misses a word, the dog just listens and wags his tail."

Patiently listening to budding readers are Jamie Arrowsmith and Tuck; Sandy Hill and Marlow; Lisa Barnett and Dixie; Cameron Henri and Griet; Rhonda Johnson and Touche and Deacon; and Shannon Lumpkins and Jesse.

Many volunteers, including Catherine Anderson, Tyler Christian, Kaitlyn Clark, Bridget Courtney, Christopher Courtney, Kaitlyn McMillan, Scottie Garber, Courtney Griffin, Yhazmyne Hawkins, Agibail Hooker, Judy Hooker, Rachel Pope, Drew Romance, Judy Russell, Nishan Singh, Denise Johnson, Kelsey Luciano, Katy Mason, Roshan Srinath, worked during the hectic summer reading programs helping with the reading logs, handing out prizes and re-shelving the tons of books read.

And Matthew Parker helped immensely in running the G.A.M.E.R.Z. programs on Fridays.

"And last, but certainly not least, we offer our gratitude to the Friends of the Library volunteers who come in several times a week to empty the book donation bin, sort and price the donations in preparation for the biannual book sale," Whittaker said. "Then, during the book sale, they work endless hours setting up, selling, and packing up."

Proceeds from the sale are used as matching funds for grants to purchase public computers, laptops for free public computer classes, online databases, teen furniture, and video gaming equipment.

"For their tireless efforts in all these functions, we offer a hearty Kingsport Thank You to Reggie Martin, Helen Sirett, Gail Preslar, Marian Crowell and Jim Crowell," Whittaker said.

All programs mentioned in this article are free of charge and can be scheduled by phoning 224-2539 or by visiting www.kingsportlibrary.org.

Kingsport Contact Info


1st Floor, City Hall


225 West Center St.
Kingsport, TN 37660



(423) 229-9400


(423) 229-9350