Library volunteer caught bookworm bug early

93-year-old Anita Powers has been sorting and stacking books at the Central Branch of the Brown County Library for 15 years. (Courtesy WLUK)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- A lifelong love of books is adding up to lots of volunteer hours for a 93-year-old Allouez woman, and she has no plans to shelve her contributions anytime soon.

For about 15 years, Anita Powers has been donating her time with the “Friends of the Brown County Library.” And she continues to add more chapters in her own story of making a difference.

Sorting and stacking is a year-round job ahead of the twice-yearly book sale at the Brown County Library.

There are almost 50 different categories to decide between, and Powers knows just about all of them all by heart.

The books, many of which are donated, need to be separated, boxed and stacked. Powers does all three. And even though she admits she’s slowing down, she still makes the rounds once a week.

“My library is my home away from home," says Powers. "And I love it and anything I can do to support it, I’ll do.”

Powers acquired the bookworm bug early in life. There wasn’t a library branch in Allouez when she was growing up, so every two weeks her mother brought her to the central branch. And she would check out as many books as she was allowed, and then some.

“At that time, there was a limit in the children’s department as to how many books you could check out," says Powers. "Maryanne Sharp was the head librarian and she waived the rules for me.”

Powers says she’d take out 14 books at a time: one for each day until her next trip.

Curt Heuer has been volunteering in the sorting room almost as long as Powers. He says she’s the gold standard when it comes to lending a hand.

“Well she’s an excellent role model," says Heuer. "We have younger people come in here who sort of roll their eyes and throw their hands up. And I say, 'look, if Anita can do this, you guys can do this too.'”

According to Heuer, these days sorting is a mix of science and intuition, "because you can’t judge a book by its cover anymore. Not that you ever could.”

The same goes for the people who put them in their place.

About 150 people chip in their time with the Friends of the Brown County Library. Last year Powers was one of three Volunteers of the Year.

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