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Library ‘important part’ of Westerly community

One thing is certain: thanks to its vast library and dedicated volunteer crew, residents of the Westerly will never want for reading material.

The library was established shortly after the independent living residences opened in 2015, and residents Deb Derber and Lyle and June Koerper have been sorting and re-shelving books there ever since.

Independent Living at the Westerly residents enjoy access to a well-appointed library, which is maintained by volunteers who live in the community.

“I wanted to be involved with some volunteer activity, and I enjoy reading—it’s a favorite activity of mine,” Lyle said. Deb got involved for the same reason.

“Each one of us has our own idea of what makes good reading,” said Deb, who says she “reads for entertainment, not for learning.” She particularly likes Christian historical fiction and historical fiction. Lyle is partial to mysteries and westerns as well as history.

Instead of using the Dewey Decimal System, volunteers separate the books into broad categories, such as fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Everything is alphabetized by author, so residents can find different titles by their favorite writers.

DVDs are also available, as well as coffee-table-style picture books, which residents will often look through while seated in one of the library’s comfortable armchairs. Check-out is on an on-your-honor system. There’s no recordkeeping, no time limits and no fines. When a borrower is done with a book or DVD, they simply drop it in a basket in the library. Volunteers regularly re-shelve the volumes.

“I’d tell a new resident to spend some time browsing and see what we have,” Lyle said. “If they have books they are finished with and want to share, they can make a donation.”

That’s how the Westerly library expands its collection.

“We have had so many wonderful books donated to us when people downsize their homes,” Deb said. “No one likes to get rid of a good book.”

Every few months, volunteers weed out older books and refresh the shelves with new donations. Surplus books are passed along to the Union Rescue Mission. Clients who are learning computer skills there will list the books to sell online.

Lyle says he can tell the library gets a lot of usage because of how many books he and his fellow volunteers have to put back on the shelves.

“A lot of people borrow books, so I would say the library is an important part of our community,” he said.

It’s also a great place to exercise your imagination.

“Reading is a really great activity,” Deb said. “It sends you into another location.”

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