The Volunteers

One of the tools our clever, unsung administrators use to support certain institutional elements — state or local — is adoption, the nonhuman kind, that is.

During the 1980’s, with that concept in mind, a program based on picking up highway litter was initiated. Soon, a number of small businesses and civic groups as well as individuals began to announce the adoption of highways, streets, and roads. The adopters voluntarily took responsibility for keeping their adoptees neat and clean. 

Attesting to the efforts on behalf of the common good, personalized Adopt-A-Highway signs were placed along the thoroughfares of our states. In the process, the program impacted state budgets by helping to free up millions of dollars for more vital projects (

Me? I’m an individual who also believes in volunteering. And so, when the opportunity presented itself, I adopted library shelves.

Just after the call came in from our community library asking for help to keep their book shelves in order, I offered my services. It was a perfect fit because I loved to read almost anything and to organize practically everything. The reading provided me with knowledge, jostled my imagination, and added — if fickle memory allowed — unique words to my vocabulary. Organizing, on the other hand, unified the rumpled brain waves created by all that reading.

Of course, the reading required to properly shelve books was limited to the Dewey Decimal System and the organizing was limited to sequencing numbers and letters. But let us not forget: it was to benefit the library.

Six months into my task of carefully, and lovingly, tending to the books, I came across, in the middle of my group of shelves, a long black and white sign. To my surprise it read, THESE SHELVES WERE ADOPTED BY SUE GOLDSTEIN. I giggled soundlessly to preserve the library’s hush and thought, What a hoot! What a sign!

And I grinned all the way through the afternoon, from 814.1 to 910.9.


 For a lively description of the Dewey Decimal System, click on, and read, “Do We” Really Know Dewey? The website was developed by sixth graders but it’s clever and good for all ages.