We at Libros Schmibros enjoy the myth that talented folks just happen into our shop, see a task, and automatically get to work helping out in an orderly fashion. The opposite canard—that we do it all by ourselves—is just as ridiculous. The secret to Libros Schmibros’ existence is the ongoing, donated labor of 10-15 regulars who in their spare time schlep books, catalogue stock, assist patrons, and run events. Perhaps the biggest volunteers of all are the three of us who run Libros day to day: David, Catherine and myself. We’re volunteers because we’re unsalaried, and depending on what mischief we’re up to—from running major conferences to setting ourselves up in a museum somewhere in Westwood—we can each log up to 60 hours a week.
Photo: Ann HadlockAll this makes me wonder what a volunteer really is. I’m fascinated that the word has deep roots in states of wishing, or selecting, and is used to describe everything from free will to blood donation. What I do know is, good help is hard to come by, and like gold when we find it.