EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: 77-year-old library volunteer

Marion Gunther refurbishes well-loved books in Brunswick County

OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — Her name is Marion.  And while she’s not a librarian, she does work with books weekly in her volunteer position at the Barbee Library in Oak Island, NC.

Marion Gunther has been volunteering in the library system since she moved from Long Island 23 years ago.  Prior to that, she taught school for 30 years in Long Island, NY.

She says, she’s found a niche refurbishing books that have been well-read, and well-used.

“People, when they read, ” she explains, “they pull the book apart and that’s what causes a lot of the troubles with a book.”

Every Saturday, patrons will find Marion in a small section of the library, repairing books that have damaged pages, and recovering those that are tattered, worn, tired or torn.

“Libraries are very important places,” she says. “I like to make sure that the books that people are taking out are in the best condition that I can keep them in.”

She takes pride in her work, and has fired off as many as 50 re-covers in a day.

Paperbacks are tricky, she says, because every measurement has to be exact, due to the heavy plastic re-cover material that resembles contact paper.  Placement has to be exact, and she’s a stickler for detail.

Hardbacks are not as hard to cover, because the materials are more forgiving.  Marion says it’s especially important to protect the dust covers on hardback books.

“Don’t throw away the dust jackets because if you wish to sell them, they are what distinguishes the value of a book.” according to Marion.

This spunky 77-year-old plans to keep up this pace until she’s no longer physically able.

“I enjoy libraries,” she admits. “I think they’re the heart of this country. People should appreciate them, and use them more because we need them.”

She also participates in story time for children, and library employees say she’s an invaluable part of the Barbee team.

Library assistant Ann Duckworth sums it up best.

“I love her. She’s so sweet, so good and you can tell she loves books and loves book people.”

Book people from across the Cape Fear can find this extraordinary volunteer preserving books for the next generation, and enjoying every minute of the process.

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