When Janet McCrae started volunteering at Benson Branch in 2008, paying tribute to her family was at the forefront of her mind.
Many years ago, McCrae’s sister wanted to volunteer in a library as a terminally ill cancer patient. Unfortunately, after a few weeks of volunteering, the library in her town told McCrae’s sister that they could not use her. This was very upsetting, and McCrae remembers her sister calling to tell her about it. While this experience could have left McCrae with a bad impression about volunteering in libraries, she decided to try it as a way to honor her sister. Though McCrae lives in the Florence area, she chose to volunteer in Benson because her mother had lived near the Benson Branch and spent a lot of time at that library.
After nearly 15 years of volunteering, McCrae still enjoys her work shelving books and magazines each week. Benson Branch staff appreciate McCrae’s reliability and energy.
“Janet comes in every week, shares a lovely story or two with us, and then gets right to shelving lots of adult new books and fiction. She is amazing and a great source of help,” said Benson Branch Manager Jennifer Jazynka.
In addition to her volunteer work, McCrae enjoys the people she meets at the library.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know the staff and many of the regular patrons,” said McCrae. “We discuss books and I get a lot of great recommendations from them.”
McCrae is an avid reader, belongs to two different book clubs and has an extensive home library. She loves a good mystery, but also enjoys historical books, which comes as no surprise since McCrae was a former English and history teacher in Omaha Public Schools. She also makes sure to read “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne every year because she still gets a chuckle out of it!
When not reading and volunteering, McCrae also enjoys gardening and taking care of her lawn. She attends tai chi classes twice a week and is very involved with her church. McCrae recommends volunteering, especially at Benson Branch. “The staff will really work with you to find a good spot for you doing something that you’re comfortable doing,” she said.
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering at OPL, visit your neighborhood branch or omahalibrary.org/volunteer for more information.