In her nearly 20 years of volunteering at the Scarborough Public Library, June Cassidy, 88, has logged almost 1,000 hours and repaired more than 7,000 books, saving the library significant time and money.

Now she is set to receive the annual Senior Service Award from Scarborough Terrace, a local senior living community, that gives the award to those who’ve made “a tremendous difference in the lives of others,” according to Elizabeth Simonds, Scarborough Terrace’s marketing manager.

As part of the award Cassidy and the library will each receive a cash prize of $500. An award ceremony was planned for Tuesday, Sept. 29, after the Current’s deadline.

While Cassidy doesn’t live at Scarborough Terrace, Simonds said her work has “positively impacted our residents because we visit the library twice a month and without her skills and time the books our residents read would be in poor condition. Her expertise has helped all of us to continue enjoying our favorite books.”

And though Simonds said many people have turned to e-readers these days, “There’s nothing quite (like) cracking open a book, feeling the pages under your fingertips and seeing the photos in real life. Books add richness to our lives (and) we feel June’s restoration work is precious.”

In addition, Simonds said the Senior Service Award, “is a way for us to thank (area volunteers) for their commitment to a local organization and give back to them just a portion of what their time is worth.”

She added, “The recipients we honor with this award have spent years of unpaid time and effort to positively impact their community in various ways.”

Simonds said last year’s award recipient used his cash prize to upgrade his laptop so that he could Skype with his family.

Cassidy is “thrilled” to receive the Senior Service Award, but also said, “I’ve enjoyed volunteering (at the library) so much, it seems like I get more out of it than I give.”

What she enjoys the most is the “camaraderie I feel with the staff and the other volunteers. I’ve made friendships over the years that are invaluable.”

And, even after 20 years, Cassidy still loves mending books and is “happy I can contribute to the library in this way.”

In terms of her own reading, she enjoys both fiction and non-fiction, especially biographies and historical novels. “I just read ‘The Nightingale’ by Kristin Hannah and really enjoyed it,” she said.

Cassidy does both minor and significant repairs to damaged books, which she learned how to do through a class taught at the library. Each week she uses special glues and instruments to intricately repair any damage.

She first moved to Scarborough in 1993 and decided, “The library would be a great place to volunteer since I am an avid reader and visit the library a lot. I didn’t want to sit back and do nothing” with her retirement.

Cassidy said, “I feel like I’m doing something valuable that adds a lot of enjoyment to my life. It’s very therapeutic for me to spend time repairing the books and over the years I’ve developed irreplaceable relationships with the staff and other volunteers.”

She was formerly a home economics teacher at the junior high level and in addition to volunteering at the library Cassidy is also active in a local quilting group and does tai chi several times a week.

Kathie Rauth, the volunteer coordinator at the Scarborough Public Library, said Cassidy is the longest serving volunteer the organization has, “and we trust her immensely because she is so conscientious about her work and an expert at what she does.”

She also said Cassidy is special because she’s a “warm, gracious, and generous person.”

In addition, Rauth said, “She has a wonderful rapport with members of our staff and has also been a great help in welcoming and training other volunteers. The fact that she has volunteered at the library almost every week for 20 years speaks to the tremendous commitment and dedication she brings to the work she does for us.”

Rauth said Cassidy deserves to be recognized for her years of mending books because “having a collection that is in good condition is very important to us – in fact other libraries that borrow our materials through interlibrary loan often remark on how well they are maintained.”

She also said that Cassidy has saved the library “a great deal of money over the years. The cost associated with repairing books is much less than the cost to replace them. We couldn’t begin to quantify how much the library has saved between the number of hours she has volunteered and the number of items she has repaired.”

Overall, Rauth said, “Volunteers are a necessary part of the library’s day-to-day operations – every item that ends up on our shelves is touched at some point by a volunteer. It would cost the library well over $18,000 a year to hire staff to do the work that volunteers complete behind the scenes.”

In terms of choosing Cassidy and the library to receive the annual service award from Scarborough Terrace, Simonds said, “Our residents regularly visit the Scarborough Public Library as a way to keep their minds active. Its staff and volunteers are always there to help our residents find what they’re looking for and recommend new books they might enjoy.

“When we were discussing who this year’s benefiting organization of the Senior Service Award would be, the library was first on our list. We’re overjoyed to be able to recognize this organization and June in this special way, as they give so much to our residents.”

June Cassidy, a longtime volunteer at the Scarborough Public Library, is being honored with a Senior Service Award from Scarborough Terrace this week.Courtesy photo

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