Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 12, 2013

Stepping in to help

Library volunteer’s service is much appreciate — and needed

Jeff Riggs
The Athens Review

Athens — At least one volunteer from the Henderson County C.W. Murchison Memorial Library believes her decision to volunteer was one of the best things that has happened in her life.

Kaye Bowling, who has been a volunteer for about four months, said she heard of the opportunity through one of her neighbors in Safari Waters Ranch, a housing development on U.S. Highway 175 about halfway between Athens and LaRue. That neighbor was in contact with the Friends of the Library.

“She recognized that with all the budget cuts, the staff was in need of volunteer help,” Bowling said. “I always loved books and reading. I thought this volunteer position was a perfect fit for me.”

Her duties vary with the library, and so does her hours. Currently, she goes into the library every Thursday, due to her involvements in several community projects and activities in her church. But when Head Librarian Lorie Travi soon goes on maternity leave, Bowling believes her hours will increase.

“Basically, I always thought the library was important in a community,” Bowling said. “It is a free access to books. It really promotes literacy for all ages, income levels and literacy levels.  A high literacy in a community benefits whole community. The library also provides computers to people without computers, which is just about essential in today’s society. I just wanted to be a part of that. I’ve enjoyed meeting all the people. They have a lot of regulars that come through.  They are interesting to talk with, and they’re very friendly.”

Currently, Bowling installs computer website information, giving a brief synopsis of the books in the library. 

“That’s so that when people look up the library on-line, they can tell what a book is about. I’m having a ball going through all these kids books. It’s like being a kid in a candy store. I love it,” Bowling said.

Other than that, Bowling said there are no really “set” duties. She, like the other volunteers, shelve books, check them in and out and help patrons with the computers and other projects.   They also help to keep the library tidy.

“I love the library staff,” Bowling said. “They are friendly, encouraging and supportive. I really enjoy working with them.”

With all the interesting duties she says she has in the library, there is one area of endeavor that Bowling lists as her favorite.

“Working with kids is my favorite part,” Bowling said. “The kids are so much fun. I love it. There was this one little boy that came in, and said he was improving in his reading program at school.  If a student is a good reader, that person will be better able to excel in school.”

Bowling is married to husband Allen, who retired in November after working at Texas Instruments in Dallas for 32 years. The Bowlings have twin sons, age 30. She once worked in her church’s office in Richardson. She was involved in the church’s English as a Second Language program for 25 years, teaching and directing the program during that time.

“This alone contributes to my passion related to literacy,” she said.

“I feel like I’m supporting the library, but at the same time, getting a lot of enjoyment out of the people.”

Bowling believes that anyone who volunteers is going to have a great experience. Anybody who is dependable, willing to learn, and willing to share their time and talents and enjoys working with people will really enjoy working at the library. It’s a great way, she said, to share your volunteer time.

A native of Alabama, she was transplanted to Texas in 1980 when her husband came to this area for employment. The Bowlings discovered Safari Waters Ranch and decided to live there for their retirement.

Henderson County Library Board President Charlotte Owens said Bowling is currently one of three volunteers. There are also three salaried workers, two full-time and one part-time.

“The county commissioners cut our budget by about  half,” Owens said. “We’re the only county library that was cut. We need help. We need some volunteers that will come up there, and do some voluntary work.”

Owens said the need for volunteers has never been so necessary.

“We were operating very well before we were cut,” Owens said. “Now we are scrambling around, trying to make ends meet.  We’re on a skeleton crew.  It’s takes a pretty good crew to do it. We appreciate every one of them.”

Owens said her day to volunteer is Wednesday.

Currently, volunteers are needed most on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Head Librarian Lorie Travi said anyone who aspires to become a volunteer should go by the library at 121 S. Prairieville St. and fill out an application.

For more information, call Travi at 903-677-7295.