Opening a new chapter

16 county library retirees return to volunteer

November 29, 2006|By Nick Shields | Nick Shields,sun reporter

Sally Majoros led a group of eager children and their parents into a classroom at the Arbutus library on a recent morning.

"My name is Miss Sally, and I'm so happy to see you this morning," she said in a soothing, grandmotherly voice.

The kids seemed just as pleased to see her.

Majoros is one of more than a dozen retired library system employees who volunteer. At least once a month, she reads and sings to children during a half-hour story time session.

It is not uncommon for a former library employee to return as a volunteer, but the number who have returned to Baltimore County libraries appears to exceed the norm. County library officials say 16 former employees have returned as volunteers.

"It says a lot about who they are, and how they feel about the library, and what they feel they can offer to the community," said James H. Fish, county library director. "Those who come back to the library are extra special."

Howard County library officials said about five of the 350 volunteers there are former employees. Harford County library officials said about four retired employees from the library have returned as regular volunteers. In Baltimore, about three library retirees return each year to volunteer, mainly for special projects, said Summer Rosswog, volunteer services coordinator at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Baltimore County library officials said voluntarism means savings for the county. The hours that the 377 library volunteers devote are equivalent to about 14 paid employees, county library officials said.

Majoros started with the Baltimore County library system in 1987. She worked at branches in Cockeysville, Pikesville and Arbutus for 18 years before retiring about two years ago.

"The reason I quit is because I turned 70, and I said, `I don't feel like working any more,'" she said.

Majoros said her rationale for returning to work for free was that "this was absolutely the happiest place I ever worked."

Majoros took six months off before returning with a more flexible schedule. She volunteers once a month at the Arbutus branch, reading and singing to toddlers such as Benjamin Lindner, 2, one of the 21 children listening to almost her every word.

Benjamin's mother began taking him to story time soon after he was born.

"I love her," Benjamin's mother, Holly Lindner, said of Majoros. "I think she's great. I've been coming for a couple of years now, and she's been here, loyal and happy."

Richard Parsons, 80, worked for the Baltimore County library system from 1962 until in 1991. He returned from retirement as a part-time employee before losing his job in 1993 because of county budget cuts. Soon after the cuts, he came back as a full-time volunteer.

He works in information services almost 40 hours a week, acquiring photographs and indexing them for a county library Web site that focuses on local history. He said he enjoys the work, which has allowed him to index more than 40,000 photographs.

"I feel I'm doing a very useful thing in preserving the county's history," he said. "It beats sitting in a rocking chair, reading the Bible and checking your will."

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