In a quietly joyful celebration, members of the house at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio, were invited into the newly reorganized library on August 11.
Sorting through the books and refreshing the collection was a labor of love for Companions Dave and Jane McNeal of Wapakoneta, Ohio, and their committee.
The effort started in 2017, when they were asked to be part of a committee to study the library and make it more inviting and useful to the people who live at St. Charles. As a retired educator and school librarian/media specialist, Dave McNeal brought his expertise to the task, with Jane an enthusiastic partner.
“When we were working in the library, people always came by to encourage us and thank us for our efforts,” he said. “And, we got fed each time!”
The McNeals, observing all local health directives, were able to continue working on the project even through the worst of the pandemic. They were a welcome sight to St. Charles residents at a time when visitors were restricted.
They worked with a committee that included St. Charles Facilities Manager Amy Day, lay residents Terri Hoag and Kathy Homan, and Missionaries Fr. Tom Hemm, Fr. David Hoying, Fr. Bill Hoyng, Fr. Al Spilly and Br. Theophane Woodall.
Dave oversaw the purchase of a library software program then he and Jane inputted all the titles. “God does not work in coincidences. The first book I inputted (into the database) was Fr. Bob Schreiter’s In Water and In Blood.”
Jane demonstrated the use of the database for St. Charles residents during the celebration, deftly answering their questions.
The committee also bolstered the library’s fiction and magazine sections to give it a broader appeal, and organized its large video collection.
While some books were removed, all are still on the premises, said Amy Day. Some are in the archives and others are stored elsewhere.
“Dave and Jane did not solely make the decision on what books would be pulled,” she said. “Members labeled books that they wanted to stay in the library. And all the books that we took out are still here.”
Terri Hoag helped the McNeals affix new labels to the books’ spines, and Dave reshelved them in what he hopes is a more user-friendly way.
Amy praised the McNeals’ faithfulness to the effort. “Every book in the library, they have touched,” she said.
The McNeals will continue to volunteer in the St. Charles library. “There’s a clause in our contract that says we cannot retire,” Dave joked.