To The Ends Of The Earth In East Verde Estates

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There is no way to count the books on the shelves of the community library at East Verde Estates.

The creation of an inventory log is work the volunteer librarians view as unnecessary. Books are placed on the shelves by category, then alphabetically by author.

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Whether residents want the thrill of a mystery or the realities of science, all kinds of books are available to residents of East Verde Estates.

"I just love books -- that came from my parents," said volunteer librarian Claire Wall of her pet project.

"I have a plaque in the children's room about how books open up the world. Many people do not get to travel very widely, but through books you can go to the ends of the earth."

Eight-year-old Rachael Knauer said she comes to the library often to check out kids' books and take them home to read.

"People don't realize how books can help their life," Wall said. "Everybody is on the honor system. When they come in and get a book, they put a card in from where they took the book out," she said. Books are returned to the sorting pile, which gives Wall and the other volunteers an opportunity to see what is being checked out."

Judee Sherman is Wall's primary helper at the library.

The building formerly was the 100-plus homeowners' community fire station until "Payson made us an offer we couldn't refuse -- that they would supply us with fire protection and emergency medical response ... also because the firefighters that we had were aging. These were men in their 60s and 70s, and it was a strain and a hardship for us to maintain. At that time (five or six years ago) there weren't very many young people out here and those that were, worked all the time, so it wasn't convenient for them to learn how to fight fires."

Then Jim and Mary Cambier took over the small building and created the library, but there weren't enough volunteers to staff it.

Later, when the homeowners association wanted to tear the building down and sell the land, Claire Wall said, "Oh no. We need a library. Books are very important."

In October of 2002, Wall surveyed the books that were in the building. There was a fair selection of books, but Wall thought it was a hardship to have volunteers actually stay at the library, hence the honor system.

Local artist Mina Cavanaugh "transformed" what had been the fire station's office with murals of a mother duck and her ducklings and a tree of knowledge.

Wall had her "workhorses" in to help make the books accessible without anyone getting on a ladder and potentially hurting himself or herself. A group of men came in and put new light fixtures in the ceilings. Carpet was donated, along with pictures and furniture. The homeowners association sets aside some of the money they earn from their annual June yard sale and auction to maintain the building.

The library is only open to residents of East Verde Park, seven days a week.

A sign by the door reads ‘please turn the light out as you leave.'

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