WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — Laura Kepler absolutely loves it when she is able to help someone find the book they’ve been searching for.
“You see people coming in, and they're like, ‘Oh, I've been looking for this book forever,’” she said with a smile as she described her favorite moments at the Jefferson County Library Foundation used book sales.
But most of her volunteer time with the foundation isn’t spent at the sales. Instead, Kepler can be found at the foundation’s used book warehouse sorting through boxes of donated books trying to figure out where they need to go next in order to find their new homes.
“We assign them to go to various libraries,” Kepler said as she looked at all of the shelves around the warehouse. “We assign them to go to our online booksellers or antique booksellers here.”
The primary outlet for these books is the Jefferson County Library Foundation’s Whale of a Used Book Sales every fall and spring. In the weeks before the spring sale, the warehouse can be filled with 80,000-100,000 books, CDs and DVDs.
Kepler said there are always unexpected discoveries as they go through the boxes. Some are better than others.
“We just see a lot of the rare books or just the unusual, like, the one I just found today was liquor is your servant or something like that,” Kepler said. “You know the cookbooks where you look at the pictures and you're like, 'no one would ever eat that?' That cookbook needs to go away.”
Kepler has been volunteering for the Foundation for ten years. It's a long time to be volunteering for one organization, but she said the reason she keeps coming back is simple — she likes book people.
“People who like books tend to be fun people,” she said with a laugh. “They want to talk about the books and they want to make fun of this author and retell you to read this author.”
The people at the foundation are just as fond of Kepler as she is about them.
“She’s kind of a Jill of all trades,” executive director Jo Schantz said. “She works hard at all of our whale sales. She helps us go out and canvass for donations. She's just been a superstar.”
For Kepler, it’s all about connecting people with books. She loves connecting people with her favorites or books on the shelves that have been banned at one point or another. But she said her favorite moments will always be watching people leave the book sale with a huge bag of books and a smile on their faces.
“They walk out, you know, having spent $12 and they act like they found the world's biggest treasure,” Kepler said.
Because Kepler believes books truly are a treasure.
Learn more about volunteering, buying books or donating used books or media on the foundation's website.
Denver7 features a different Everyday Hero each week. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.