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Book lovers’ dream

Three libraries just steps away from the front door

Created date

February 22nd, 2011

In today s fast-paced world filled with gadgets and gizmos, electronic books, and online newspapers, one might expect libraries to fade into the past. That s not the case, however. In fact, one local library system is growing rapidly with the help of hundreds of book lovers. The Cedar Crest libraries, comprised of three separate libraries located throughout the Pompton Plains community, have been expanding since the first location, Timber Ridge, opened in fall 2001. Residents have donated nearly every book, sharing their interests with neighbors new and old.

A gift to share

We all share an interest in reading and spread it around, says Chief Librarian Isobel Post, who lives at the community and has volunteered for the libraries since May 2004. Our residents may no longer collect books, but that doesn t mean they no longer read or buy them. Post explains that the libraries are a win-win situation for people who live at Cedar Crest. When people downsize from their house to a Cedar Crest apartment home, they often toss books first. But instead of throwing their beloved books away, people may donate them to the Cedar Crest libraries and share them with new neighbors. Librarian Marie Sprankel says she has volunteered for the Cedar Crest libraries since May 2004 simply to share her love of books with others. The whole world is open to you when you can read, she says. You meet different characters and visit different places. Reading is the greatest gift in the world. Each librarian spends between 15 and 20 hours a month processing donations, withdrawing outdated items, and generally organizing the libraries to keep them updated and accessible to all Cedar Crest neighbors. Sally Buschmann, of the Timber Ridge location, and Pauline Reilly, of Woodland Commons, also act as volunteer librarians with Sprankel and Post, while nearly 30 more volunteers shelve books daily, creating a true community effort. Volunteers shelve all fiction books in alphabetical order by author s last name and all nonfiction books using the Dewey Decimal System and their card catalogue. We catalogued nonfiction books because people don t always know the author s last name; they usually search by subject for nonfiction, Post explains. The system seems to work; more than 40,000 items have circulated through Cedar Crest since May 2004.

Library logistics

Sprankel says her fellow neighbors have not only been actively using the libraries, but they have also been generously donating items, creating an expansive collection, including large print books, books on CD and cassette, and videos. Post and her assistants don t accept all donations, however. Items they don t accept include cookbooks, because we don t need to cook here, she says; medical or diet books, because we don t wish to be liable for any medical advice; text books; condensed books; or gothic novels. They also periodically withdraw outdated versions, so the libraries are always current. Of the three libraries, the one located in the Belmont Clubhouse contains the largest selection, including both fiction and nonfiction books, CDs, and cassettes. The Timber Ridge Library contains only fiction books and is slightly smaller than the Belmont Library. The newest location, a small area in the Woodland Commons Clubhouse, contains the most limited selection. However, Post says they are running out of room in that location and need to expand. All three libraries are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are based on the honor system for book checkout. One must simply sign his or her name and the book title in a register located in each library. He or she then returns the book upon finishing it. This library adds the greatest pleasure to my life here at Cedar Crest, says library patron and Cedar Crest neighbor Ann Florio as she browses the shelves.

Life s too short to read bad books

Cedar Crest book club shares love of literature

When Joan Gelb moved to Cedar Crest from nearby Pequannock eight years ago, she saw an opportunity. I had always wanted to belong to a book club, but I was always working and raising a family and didn t have time, she says. Upon moving to Cedar Crest, she found no such club existed at the time, so she started the Book Lovers Club with help from the community s resident life department. It was an instant success because we have so many intelligent, interesting people here, Gelb says. The first meeting drew nearly 25 people. Today, the group of more than 60 members meets every other month, sharing their favorite reads, new and old. Reading is a terrific escape from reality, Gelb says of the club s popularity. If my second grade teacher could come back to life, I would give her such a hug and kiss for teaching me how to read. It s my absolute favorite hobby. Without a book I feel lost. Gelb says she enjoys mostly fiction, but the club reads both fiction and nonfiction. They ve read such texts as The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and Reg Keeland, The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, The Citadel by A.J. Cronin, and The Power of One by Bruce Alexander. This month they will discuss The Help by Kathryn Stockett on March 16. They rarely choose mysteries, but on occasion they ll make an exception because it s so popular we all want to know what it s about! Gelb says, citing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as a recent example. Gelb plans a year s worth of meetings in advance by asking club members to choose a book they d like to read and present. Club members read the assigned book before each meeting, and the chosen presenter gives a brief synopsis before posing questions to stimulate discussion. As a group, they share the latest sensations and old favorites. After all, as Gelb says, Life s too short to read bad books.