Jean Benson was honored as a County Library volunteer of the year.
Benson was not present at the county’s recognition ceremony April 10 but was one of six County Library volunteers honored and one of 32 volunteers throughout the county recognized.
“It’s a nice honor,” Benson said. “It was really nice of them to nominate me, and I’m pleased to get one of the spots.”
Benson began volunteering for the Fallbrook branch library when the new building opened two years ago. “I retired from teaching and knew that I wanted to volunteer in the community because I live here,” she said.
Benson, who grew up in Long Beach and moved from Oceanside to Fallbrook in 2000, taught kindergarten and special education in the Oceanside Unified School District for 32 years prior to her retirement. As a teacher she took her students to the community library approximately once a week.
Fallbrook’s 19,076 square foot branch library replaced the 8,100 square foot library built in 1986. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved funding and the construction contract process in March 2008, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in September 2009. The new library opened in January 2011.
“I was watching that building get constructed and was fascinated with the whole process,” Benson said.
Benson offered to volunteer at the new library. “I like the people there,” she said. “I also get the chance to help people find things.”
In fall 2012 librarian Ceci Rincon was transferred from the Fallbrook branch to the Vista branch. Benson, who had created posters and flyers for public events at the Fallbrook library, also began creating such material for Vista branch events. “I enjoy that process, too,” Benson said.
County Library director Jose Aponte noted that Benson’s work enables the community to take greater advantage of library events. “The missing piece is what Jean brings, and that is the ability to communicate that message,” Aponte said. “Her function is the bridge to the Greater Fallbrook community.”
Benson’s work at the Fallbrook branch also includes shelving and helping library patrons find materials. “I pretty much do what they need me to do as a volunteer,” she said.
Benson is also on the board of directors of Friends of the Fallbrook Library.
Aponte estimated that the typical County Library branch has between 120 and 130 volunteers. “That allows us to do our work in a more effective manner,” he said. “That really adds to the ability of the library to do its work.”