The 10 volunteers who run Nelson Memorial Library do not get a paycheck
What they get instead is a sense of satisfaction that comes from helping people select the perfect book, DVD or CD and watching children enjoy storytimes and other family-friendly activities.
And June Lufkin, president of the Friends of the Nelson Library, also takes pride in preserving a legacy that began more than 100 years ago by a mogul of the town’s rich shoe history.
Nelson Memorial Library is located on the site where shoemaker Charles H. Nelson lived in a mansion in the late 1800s. After his death, he willed the mansion to the town to be used as a library.
The library was operational until a fire destroyed the structure in 1974. The current library building was then built on the sit in 1976. This structure served as a town library for North Grafton until two years ago, when the town shuttered the libraries in North and South Grafton for financial reasons. Only the Grafton Public Library on the Common remains.
But Lufkin and a determined group of volunteers had other ideas. “We were very disappointed when they closed the branch here,’’ she said. “We do feel strongly about keeping [Nelson’s] legacy alive.’’
For Lufkin, the loss was personal. She worked for more than 30 years in the town library system, and began her library career in the converted mansion in 1966.
She and her fellow volunteers were determined to keep the library open and offered to staff it at no cost to the town, which would be responsible for maintenance and upkeep, as it would with any municipally-owned building.
Today they keep the library open three days a week, from 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Patrons can browse among and borrow books obtained by a variety of sources. Some of the collection was overstocks from the other town libraries. Still others were donated.
And to keep the collection current, recent publications are purchased from donations and proceeds from fund-raisers, including a successful garage sale last year.
The volunteers “love libraries,’’ Lufkin said. “And they’re book readers.’’
Because they run the library independently, the staff has its own particular rules. All items, even the most recent releases, can be taken out for 21 days.
And instead of mandating financial fines, they request donations to the Grafton Food Bank. At least once a month, Lufkin said, volunteers deliver donated food items to the food bank.
It all ties in to the library’s spirit of generosity. “We try to be here and serve the public the best way we can,’’ she said.