Resident Librarians–The Quadrangle

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By Christy Brudin

Libraries are quiet places filled with well-worn classics and imposing tomes. But the silence can be misleading. Libraries are also ripe with stories and teeming with life.

Nowhere is this truer than in the impressive library at The Quadrangle, a Continuing Care Community in Haverford, Pennsylvania. The Quadrangle’s library is not just full of great books, in large and regular print and on CDs; it also features dozens of volumes penned by current and deceased residents; has a growing DVD collection, all donated; and is staffed entirely by residents.

After studying library science, Marion Malakoff spent most of her career in administration at the University of Pennsylvania. Only after moving to The Quadrangle did she return to her profession and become one of the community’s volunteer librarians. The opportunity to be involved in an active community was why Marion moved to the Quadrangle. “The people here really are a remarkable group,” she said. “We actually run this place  – not just the library but all of the wonderful programs.”

The Quadrangle's resident librarians are proud to serve their community.  Pictured from left are Mary-Ann Reiss, Jane Unkefer, Judy Levinson, Marion Malakoff, and Ceil Frey.

The Quadrangle’s resident librarians are proud to serve their community. Pictured from left are Mary-Ann Reiss, Jane Unkefer, Judy Levinson, Marion Malakoff, and Ceil Frey.

Jane Unkefer also worked in higher education administration; she served as the Executive Director of the Bryn Mawr College Alumnae Association for 12 years. With many friends involved in establishing the nearby retirement community, and, as an early non-resident member of The Quadrangle Board, she knew what an interesting and lively place it would be.

“This became even more apparent after I moved in and began working in the library,” Jane noted. “There are two bookcases in the library filled with books written by residents, and the collection keeps growing.”

Volunteering in the community library was a given for Ceil Frey. A former English teacher who spent her career working with gifted students, Ceil and her husband knew they had found their new home the minute they saw the well-stocked library. The expansive collection of more than 10,500 volumes includes classics, as well as best sellers – many requested by the residents.

Ceil explained, “We buy the books our residents want, and they have excellent taste.” She laughed as she continued, “If you want Danielle Steele, forget it.”

The exceptional library was a major draw for Mary-Ann Reiss as well, who spent the last 30 years of her career teaching at West Chester University. She now serves as Library co-director with Jane and is proud of the service she and her fellow librarians are able to offer their peers. “Our library is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. People borrow books on the honor system, but there are also librarians available four hours a day to help,” she said.

With a reference computer, the library also offers residents the opportunity to use new technologies for research. A graduate of Cornell and a veteran of the computer industry, Judy Levinson has spent many of her volunteer hours helping expand the library’s digital capabilities.

“We’ve seen increased participation on the computer in the library. We’ve really worked to show people the possibilities of the technology,” she said.

While all of these women have dedicated time to the library, they are only a few of the dozens of volunteers who work to make this community amenity a source of pleasure and pride. The Quadrangle’s beloved library is a true reflection of the community.

“We all help each other – through trouble and through joy,” said Jane. Mary-Ann concurred, “There is just a sense of caring here; you know that the people really care about each other.”

While residents can always find a quiet spot in The Quadrangle’s library to get lost in a book or add a piece to the giant jigsaw puzzle on the center table, the facility is clearly filled with life and is the cornerstone of a thriving community.

Published: July 2014

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