ROCHESTER — Chris Wilder, of Rochester Hills, a volunteer with the Friends of the Rochester Hills Public Library, spends much of her time volunteering at the library.
“I do put in a lot of hours — so do a lot of other volunteers. I might put in an eight-hour day, and some people might think, ‘Eight hours at the library — that’s like a job,” and it is, but I don’t have to do it. That’s the thing with volunteerism: You don’t have to do it — you want to do it,” Wilder said.
The Friends recently recognized Wilder for her volunteer efforts by naming her the 2012 Friend of the Year. The award is given annually to one person who has made significant contributions of time, effort and commitment to the endeavors of the Friends.
“The award goes to someone who has volunteered over a number of years and has been just outstanding,” said Friends member Ann Gruenewald, who also serves as chair of the Used Book Sale Committee.
Wilder is active with the used book sales. She started volunteering with the committee as a sorter around nine years ago, and has chaired the Friday morning shift for many years. She currently manages the online aspect of the book sales, which involves an inventory of more than 900 books listed on Amazon.com. The process includes listing, storing, shipping and de-listing books.
Gruenewald was one of three people to nominate Wilder for the award this year for coordinating the Friends’ used books sales online.
“When we decided six or seven years ago that we wanted to try selling books online, Chris volunteered to take on the task. It seemed pretty complicated in the beginning, and she has done just a wonderful job of organizing it,” Gruenewald said. “It takes a lot of organization — so we can keep track of the books online and find them quickly when we do sell them — and a lot of research when you list the books online, so that we describe them accurately.”
When she volunteered to coordinate online book sales, Wilder said, she had only bought a few things online, but had never sold anything.
“My background is in computers, so I felt comfortable enough to figure it out. Everybody does it now, but back then I wasn’t really buying a lot of stuff online, but I thought it would be fun, and it is. It’s interesting. You really get to look at the books because you have to. When you put something online, especially with books, you have to tell them if there are any defects, so you really have to look through the books. You might be leafing through and see something interesting. I think all the volunteers love to read and love books, so it’s enjoyable to do, and all the people are really nice to work with,” she said.
Through Wilder’s efforts, the Friends’ online sales, so far this year, amount to just less than $15,000.
“Every year, the online sales have increased dramatically, and it’s all due to Chris’ organization and her devotion to it,” Gruenewald said. “She puts in an incredible number of hours every week for this. She comes in to the library probably four times a week and spends hours doing it, plus she works on it at home. Just the way she has organized it so it’s a very nice, smooth operation is very wonderful.”
Wilder said it’s nice to know her efforts are appreciated. But she said she couldn’t do it alone.
“Ann is really in charge of the Used Book Sale Committee. She does a really great job, and all the other volunteers are just great,” she said.
In addition to her volunteer duties with the Friends, Wilder is a pastry baker at Giving Thanks Bakery in downtown Rochester. She also maintains a community garden with her sister and volunteers at The Detroit Zoo.
The Rochester Hills Public Library is located at 500 Olde Towne Road in Rochester. For more information, visit www.rhpl.org.
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