Cedar Rapids library volunteers help sort donated books

Friends of the Cedar Rapids Public Library has dedicated space in downtown facility

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CEDAR RAPIDS — For decades, the group Friends of the Cedar Rapids Public Library has supported programs, and promoted literacy and community outreach, through sales of donated books.

These days, Debbie Schroeder and Jan Frischkorn are the go-to ladies when it comes to sorting those books.

“This is our life blood,” Frischkorn said, “ ... people donating books so others can buy them helps us have the funds to support library programs like Jazz in the Stacks and the summer reading program. People like donating their books because they know they are furthering the reading of another.”

“We have volunteers who adopt shelves,” Schroeder said. “They take over an area of expertise, such as cookbooks, children’s books or mystery and thrillers, and place them on custom rolling shelves to prepare us for sales.”

While group members still maintain storage space in the basement of the Cherry Building — where they’ve long done sorting and have hosted their last few book sales — the majority of their sorting now happens in back office space at the downtown library.

“The Friends had never had dedicated space in the library before,” Schroeder said, “but when they were planning for the new library they felt it was important for us to be a part of it and have a presence here.”

The women agreed having the space has made the sorting process much more efficient and easier for patrons interested in donating books.

“Patrons can just drop their donated books in the book drops,” Frischkorn said. “This setup helps us to be able to find what patrons, the library staff, and agencies need. Books don’t sit packed away in boxes. It’s just a thrill to come in here and see what has been donated.”

Both women said that working as a volunteer book sorter for the Friends organization is a very flexible commitment.

“We have a local Realtor who comes in and helps sort on her days when she isn’t busy. And then we have regular volunteers who come in every day of the week for a certain amount of time,” Schroeder said.

There are about 15 to 20 regular sorting volunteers, and Schroeder said they’d be happy to add more to their team, as well as volunteers willing to help work at book sales.

“That’s definitely a huge need as we are sitting on a lot of books,” Schroeder said. “We try so hard to find a home for every book that is donated our way.”

In 2015, the organization donated more than 9,000 books to more than 50 community organizations and schools.


For more information about Friends of the Cedar Rapids Public Library or to learn about becoming a volunteer, visit http://www.crlibrary.org/about-us/friends-of-the-library/.

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