Volunteers author KI library’s success

The Kelleys Island branch of the Sandusky Library is run entirely by volunteers, but it runs smoothly.
Tom Jackson
Nov 25, 2013

 

Consider, for example, the primary and backup systems for getting library books that have been flown to the island from the airport to the library building.
 
Volunteer coordinator Elaine Lickfelt explained one of her volunteers, Pete Legere, is in charge of getting materials from the airport to the library.

“That’s his entire job. He’s very happy with it,” she said. “It works well for me because the books just show up in the library.”

The backup system is volunteer Don Gilles, who likes to go for walks and makes a habit of checking the airport terminal for books.

“If there are books there, he picks them up,” Lickfelt said.

Lickfelt has a crew of 26 volunteers in the busy summer months, when the library is open 10 hours a week for a couple of hours every day except Fridays and Sundays. It’s now operating on winter hours, six hours a week: 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays, 1 to 3 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

The library is one of two in Ohio that operate on islands in Lake Erie; the other is the Erie Islands Library, a branch of Port Clinton’s public library. Library patrons on Kelleys Island have a nice facility to visit. Gone are the days when the branch library operated out of somebody’s laundry room.

“For many years, it was held in the home of one of the (island) residents,” explained Julie Brooks, director of Sandusky Library.

Eventually, the laundry room was reclaimed. “We needed a place to go after that wasn’t any longer practical for her,” Brooks said. “We resided in the basement of the old school, which had its drawbacks.”

But in 1988, when the school expanded, school officials invited Sandusky Library to design a space, which now serves as both a public library and the school library.

“I can’t tell you what a nice library this is,” Lickfelt said. “People comment about that all the time, especially summer people. They say, ‘This is nicer than our library back home.’”

The Kelleys Island library has the usual books, audiobooks and movies, along with a huge collection of nature books donated by the island’s Audubon Society. Patrons also can obtain anything in the CLEVNET network of libraries and get what they want transferred from the mainland, or they can use CLEVNET to download ebooks and audiobooks.

“We had a lady come in Saturday who never had a library card before. She has a Nook and she wanted to order books from the CLEVNET library, so she came in to get her library card,” Lickfelt said. “That’s happened several times this summer.”

Brooks said staffing the Kelleys Island branch with volunteers has worked out well for Sandusky Library.

“We have a wonderful head volunteer who does a wonderful job,” Brooks said.

Lickfelt said she’s happy running the library as a volunteer.

She said people do sometimes tell her, “Elaine, you should get paid.”

But Lickfelt believes if the Sandusky Library paid her, she’d have to do things she doesn’t especially enjoy, such as going to meetings.

“I don’t have to do that,” she said. “See, I have the the best of both worlds.”