Making Windsor Work: Book-lover shares her passion with Windsor seniors |

Making Windsor Work: Book-lover shares her passion with Windsor seniors

Emily Wenger

Marsella Johnson began unloading the books she brought to Marilyn VonAllman's home at the Century III Apartment Homes in Windsor. Her arms were full. Sometimes she brings more than she planned.

"Sometimes I'll come across one and think 'Marilyn would love this,'" she said.

That's how Johnson will sometimes wind up with 10 or more to take to VonAllman's home.

For nearly the past five years, Johnson has hand-delivered books to Windsor seniors through her work in adult programming with the Clearview Library District. She brings what they want through specific requests, but her favorite part of the job is making recommendations to them.

"It's the best job ever," she said. "I get to personally shop for people's books."

Johnson is preparing to retire from the district, but said she will always treasure the friends she has made through her job and will look back on her time in Windsor with fondness.

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Her biggest stop is at Good Samaritan, a senior living facility. Although she has more than 10 people to serve during that stop, she still knows who likes religious novels, serial killer stories, romances or westerns.

Johnson also receives reading suggestions from those she serves. She is a speed-reader and often reads as many as five books each week. She has always had a love of reading, and now she reads not only for herself but for others.

"I think only another passionate reader understands the need to have enough books and the right books," she said.

VonAllman said she first grew to appreciate the service when she fell last year and injured her leg. She could no longer walk to the library or to a nearby Bookmobile stop anymore. But thanks to Johnson, she could continue to read.

Johnson said she is proud to have helped seniors in the community continue to read the books they love and to be part of a library that continues its outreach, when many, she said, have discontinued such programs.

Many seniors, she said, prefer to hold a physical book, rather than reading on a tablet or other device. Sometimes, Johnson said, their preference is due to a lack of desire to learn how the devices function, but mostly they just enjoy holding a physical book, turning the pages and reading large-type prints. Some can't afford them, either, she said, so the program is important to their ability to read.

Johnson has formed friendships, too, and although she will retire from her position and move to Laramie, Wyo., at the end of this month, she plans to have plenty of stops to make whenever she comes back to visit. She will train Kali Dhayatkar as a replacement before she leaves, and said she has faith Dhayatkar is a worthy, book-loving replacement.

As VonAllman hugged her one last time before Johnson leaves, the two promised to keep in touch.

"I'll miss you," they both said, before Johnson gathered her bags full of books to return to the library and headed out the door, leaving behind some of the books that are so important to her and the seniors she has served.

Lobby Stops

The Clearview Library District offers book delivery and return for seniors through its Lobby Stop program. The district serves five assisted living facilities: Century III Homes, Good Samaritan, Governor’s Farm, Bright Assisted and Columbine Commons. According to a newsletter from the district, the library checked out 1,671 items to more than 830 residents at the facilities in 2016. Residents can sign up for the program through their respective facilities.