Laura Gillenwater

Interviewed by Barbara Sanchez

I started volunteering at the book sale in 2002. Initially I set up books and relocated the misfiled ones into the right categories. At some point, I started focusing on the media section. I really liked handling this section and have kind of “owned” it for at least the past six or seven years. It’s been interesting watching the media shift over time. DVDs used to be rare treasures among a sea of VHS tapes, and now they have become commonplace.

When I arrive for set up, there are usually stacks and stacks of media boxes waiting for me. I go through each box and sort the contents into categories: children’s, adult movies and TV shows, exercise videos, classic movies, music videos, and an “other non-fiction category” for sports-related, history, and nature videos. Audio books are sorted into their own category, and DVDs are stacked up on the cart and sorted by age group.  

I’ve been involved with the Friends in one way or another almost since its inception. Why do I help the Friends? Well, I’m a big believer in supporting public libraries. I love books and other types of media and I think it’s important to make sure that everyone has as much access to them as possible, regardless of their economic situation. 

I’ve also always loved libraries. When I was in third or fourth grade, my school had an upper school and a lower school library, but only the upper school library had a librarian. When I went to the vice principal and said that I thought the lower school library needed a librarian, he asked me to do it! Later, when I was in ninth grade at a different school, I had bronchitis for several months and couldn’t take gym, so I worked in the school library instead. And, a couple of years after I started working in the training department in my company, I created a library of training and management-related books for our team and our team’s customers to use. So, I guess I’m just very library oriented. 

When I’m not helping with the Friends book sale, I work as an e-learning and instructional design specialist/consultant at Sun Life Financial. I lead a local classics book group at Barnes & Noble, volunteer on various political campaigns, and am a member of the Natick Democratic Town Committee. I also watch a lot of television (I’m not ashamed to admit it!) and enjoy trying new foods.