WESTLAKE - For the past 17 years, retiree and longtime Westlake resident Deb Myers has claimed a spot at the Westlake Porter Public Library. Perched on the high stool behind the u-shaped Welcome desk at the same time each week, she helps patrons with a friendly smile and her deep knowledge of the library.
“I started (volunteering) here when it opened,” Myers, 66, said, talking recently while sitting at one of the many tables available in the main aisle of the sunlit, airy main floor. “It’s been Monday nights, 6-9 p.m., the whole time.”
Myers recently was honored with the 2019 Myrna Chelko Volunteer Award for more than 2,500 hours of service to the library. The honor is named after a longtime library volunteer who helped found the Friends of Porter Public Library and was also on the library board of directors.
“I’ve been volunteering since I was 18 wherever I can,” Myers said. “I’ve always loved libraries. When I started, I never thought I’d be here for 17 years. But I have no intention of quitting!”
As she reflected on her years at the library on Center Ridge Road, Myers remembers one little girl in particular. “She was about 2 years old when she started coming. Smart as a whip. She was too short to see over the desk, so she’d get on her tiptoes and hop up and down to talk to me. She was always so sweet. She is now graduating from high school and I still talk to her all the time.”
Volunteering has been an integral part of Myers’ life, especially since she retired in 2011 from Energizer Battery, where she worked for 29 years in the accounting department. Besides the library, Myers also volunteers weekly at the Ronald McDonald House, and spends “lots of hours” working with SCORE, a volunteer organization composed of retired business people who provide free advice, counseling and mentoring for small-business owners.
“This is my way of giving back,” Myers said, noting that she remembers the volunteer adults who helped when she was in 4-H and the Girl Scouts as a young girl in her home state of Iowa.
“Deb Myers has been with the library since the opening of this building, 17 years,” library director Andrew Mangels said in an email. “That kind of dedication is amazing. Deb welcomes people to the library and makes them feel at home right away. She embodies the spirit of Myrna Chelko by giving her time to help make the Porter Library a world-class destination.”
In all her years of greeting visitors, what is the most common question/reaction? “Everyone always is amazed at how pretty the library is,” Myers said. Also, “if I don’t have an answer for someone, I always tell them to come back and tell me the answer so I know in the future.”
When she has a break, Myers does have a favorite spot in the library to relax and people watch. “I love the magazine room,” she said. “I love the bright colors on the wall.”
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