In Retirement, She’s a Human Resource for the Tyngsboro Public Library
Editor’s note: This article is the latest in The Sun’s “Be a Volunteer” series, focusing on people who join community nonprofits. Got a suggestion for a profile, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org .
By Amaris Castillo
TYNGSBORO -- Laurie Cunningham walked over to the book truck by the circulation desk. It was a recent Wednesday morning at the Tyngsboro Public Library and Cunningham was there to reshelve books and other materials after processing -- and help with whatever was needed that day.
She picked up “Inspection,” a novel by Josh Malerman. A peek inside the hardcover book revealed it was new. Cunningham’s eyes lit up.
“It’s fun to put away the new books because then you can see what new stuff came in,” Cunningham explained as she walked to the end of the library where the new books are located.
She peered up and down a shelf before finding the book’s rightful place.
Cunningham, 66, is considered a valued volunteer at the Tyngsboro Library. Twice a week, the Tyngsboro resident comes in at 11:30 a.m. and does a little bit of everything.
Volunteering at the library has been a rewarding experience for the retired human resources specialist. Gone are her days of writing reports and coming up with analyses. At the library, she engages with others and learns more about town happenings.
“I feel like I’m contributing. I’m getting to know people in town, for one thing,” Cunningham said. “I worked hard for myself for salary, but now it’s for the town.”
Cunningham, who is also the incoming vice president of the Friends of the Tyngsboro Public Library, said her main focus is helping to reshelve books. Every day in the late morning, storage containers filled with books and other materials are dropped off as part of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium’s inter-library loan service. On this particular Wednesday, Cunningham unloaded several boxes of materials, placing the small stacks on a counter for one of the librarians to process.
Library Director Susanna Arthur said Cunningham helps with other tasks, including updating the library’s museum pass system with the most accurate information as well as updating promotional materials as needed.
“She brings a really wonderful, professional, pleasant demeanor,” Arthur said. “Laurie is someone you can hand almost anything to because she’s very flexible, she’s very willing to take on any project, and she’s willing to learn what needs to be learned.”
Cunningham has also lent a hand periodically in the library’s Children’s Room.
“The Children’s Room is very different from the adult room and we don’t get many adults who want to volunteer in here because it’s kind of intimidating,” said Head of Youth Services Lori Furtado. “She’s been very instrumental in that.”
Cunningham said she hopes the town recognizes what an important resource the library is.
“There’s so much going on here. They do things for kids, they do things for adults,” she said. “There’s just so much going on here and I just hope that the little bit I do helps the library staff do some of those other things that can help patrons.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.