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Volunteer profile: Maca Suazo, shelf reader

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We’re celebrating National Volunteer week with profiles of just a few of our amazing volunteers!

Maca Suazo has a long and deep connection to libraries and literature. In her native country of Chile, patrons were not allowed to browse, but had to request books that were kept in locked glass cases. Her mother travelled by train to access books to read aloud to Maca.

When she came to Canada in 1998, she was amazed first by the five-storey library at York University, where her husband was a student, and then by the Toronto Public Library, with its thousands of picture books and books in Spanish for her daughters.

She moved to Kitchener seven years ago and now volunteers as a shelf reader at Central Library.

Shelf readers make sure our collection is tidy and that every item is filed in its proper place, so customers can always find what they’re looking for.

It’s a fulfilling and flexible volunteer role for Maca. She lives within walking distance and generally comes in for about an hour a week, at any time that works for her. She takes care of a specific section of the fiction collection, and with her friend Fiorella Benini, also makes sure the Spanish collection is in top shape.

“The Spanish section is great because it includes both the fiction and non-fiction, but I can finish it in one day,” Maca says. “The other day a woman came in who is from Mexico, and she asked if I could recommend a good book … It makes me feel good to be able to help.”

Maca recommends author Isabelle Allende for anyone interested in Chilean writing. Chilean writers have a strong tradition of including elements of magical realism in their works. “We believe that magic is possible,” Maca says.

“Her stories take you to a different world. They carry you.”

She most frequently reads in English now. When she moved to Canada at age 25, she spoke very little English and began reading classic children’s and young adult novels in order to improve.

One of those first reads was The Secret Garden. “That book really spoke to me so much about filling your mind with happy things and natural things. It’s my favourite book.”

Maca is also an artist whose exhibit, Library Love, was the first show to be mounted in the Art Gallery at Central Library after our reopening last year. The exhibit was made up of 30 large, vibrant pieces, all with a library or literature theme.

Learn more about being a shelf reader.

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Author: Charlotte Prong

I'm the Social Media Editor at Kitchener Public Library. Follow us on Twitter @KitchLibrary, on Instagram @kitchenerlibrary, or like our page on Facebook.

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