In an age when many readers prefer the ease of downloading titles onto a digital device, one might question the value of restoring old books.

June Cassidy isn’t one of them. For the past 20 years, Cassidy, 88, has been a book mender at the Scarborough Public Library.

Each week, she invests a few hours of time to restore old or damaged books at the library, typically 12 to 15 titles per visit. To date, she has repaired about 7,000 books.

Cassidy’s efforts recently were recognized by the Scarborough Terrace assisted living and memory center, which presented her with its Senior Service Award honoring her service to the community and the promotion of literacy – one mended book at a time.

At the ceremony, Cassidy received an etched crystal commemorative plate and something else that she wasn’t expecting: Cassidy and the library each received a $500 cash prize.

Scarborough Terrace marketing director Elizabeth Simonds said the award was established in 2012 to honor agencies that offer an outlet for senior volunteers to invest their time and talents in community service. Past recipients include Project Grace, The Pine Point Ladies Auxiliary and Scarborough Community Services.


“Scarborough Public Library and June Cassidy were natural choices to receive this award,” said Simonds. “Many of our residents go to the library as part of our life enrichment team and June is a great example of someone who desires to remain active and do extraordinary things. She seemed so touched to be honored for doing work she says inspires her.”

Scarborough Public Library volunteer coordinator Kathie Rauth said that when the library was named a recipient of the award, and tasked with selecting a top volunteer to share in the recognition, Cassidy was an immediate standout.

“Her book repair contributions have been invaluable to the library, helping to keep book replacement costs down and older titles (that may no longer be in print) available to readers,” said Rauth.

“June’s commitment to the library has made a tremendous difference.”

Cassidy was pleased with the award but surprised by all the attention she’s been getting.

An avid reader, Cassidy grew up frequenting her local library.


“I remember reading all of the Nancy Drew books and I was never without a library card, ” said Cassidy, who took a book repair class in 1996.

When her book mending mentor Gail Dobriko retired several years ago, Cassidy almost quit, considering herself a novice of the skill; but the apprentice has since become the mentor.

Cassidy now trains volunteer Sandra Valdmanis to mend books.

The two women meet each Tuesday for the repairs. Some books have torn or detached pages, others need a new cover and some need a complete overhaul to keep them in circulation.

“There is an art to it,” said Cassidy. “I feel like I am contributing something of value.”


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