Stephanie's Heroes: Melissa Dickens

By: Stephanie Satchell Email
By: Stephanie Satchell Email

April 1, 2013

When you check out a book from the library, you probably don't think about everything it's been through or how the way you handle it might be harming it. In this week's Stephanie's Heroes CBS19's Stephanie Satchell is featuring Melissa Dickens. She works behind the scenes at a few local library branches repairing damaged books.

For 30 years several branches of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library have become a second home to volunteer Melissa Dickens

"I love books. I love to read. I always have. I want to encourage other people to read," said Melissa Dickens, Volunteer, Jefferson Madison Regional Library.

You typically won't see her out in the stacks or at the circulation desk. That's because she's in a quiet room repairing hundreds of books each year.

"It's taking something that is unusable and putting it back into a useful condition for the public. That is very rewarding," said Dickens.

She mends bestsellers with torn pages, glues in ripped out pages and is even creative with fixing children's pop up books.
She says children's books usually take the worst beating.

"Also crayon marks. Sometimes children feel they need to embellish the pictures and believe it or not, some crayon marks can be removed," said Dickens.

Not only is this a fun hobby for Dickens, repairing these novels also saves the library a lot of money.

"If we had to replace those books it would cost us about $90,000 a year. So multiply $90,000 times 30 years and you get some idea of the value of the volunteer work that has been done here at the library," said John Halliday, Library Directory, Jefferson Madison Regional Director.

"They don't have to replace that book. If a book is out of print we've managed to save it for another go 'round," said Dickens.

That's her goal. She's hoping to save as many of these publications as possible and make them look nice and neat so patrons aren't tempted to judge a book by its cover.

Dickens says there are some books that are frequently in need of repair. Those include many mysteries and Harry Potter books.

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