For the Love of Books

When Tish Butler and Richard Carlson made their first, exploratory visit to The Gardens, Tish was sold the minute she stepped into the library. “That and the trees, and I knew this was the place for me.” Little did she know then that the 9,000-volume library was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the abundance of literary interests at the Gardens. For residents who embrace, in equal measure, a passion for learning and discovery, and an eagerness to share their own interests and expertise with others, literature – the consumption, critique and creation of – is an ever-present part of life at the Gardens.
As Tish quickly discovered, the crown jewel of this love of the written word is the resident-staffed and managed library – an extraordinary amenity for residents, when measured by any standard. Long a fixture of the Gardens, the library was transformed into a professional-caliber resource in 1988. A retired librarian, newly arrived at the Gardens, saw a gem within the loosely assembled, then-3,000-volume collection. With her guidance, a legion of resident volunteers inventoried and cataloged every title, creating a first-class library for residents that has grown to more than 9,000 titles, including 170 books penned by residents. That same combination of bibliophiles and professional librarians comprises the volunteer team that continues to ensure re
sidents have a satisfying experience when they step inside the spacious library.
The library was completely volunteer-run until 2005, when Library Services Coordinator Bridgette Evangelista was hired to assist on a parttime basis. “This is definitely the residents’ library. I’m here to help fill in any gaps, but they have it so well organized,” she says. Currently, 45 volunteers support the library operations, including three former librarians: Mary Pierson, Nancy Waldman and Eiko Tomiyasu. Some of the volunteers serve on the Library Committee, which Tish now chairs, and the Book Selection Committee. Others run the day-to-day operations of the library with the oversight of two volunteer supervisors.