Local ‘friend’ recognized statewide for volunteer efforts at Ashe County Public Library

Wil Petty Staff Writer

October 31, 2013

Ashe County resident and volunteer John MacConnell is the 2013 recipient of the Fannie Ashburn Volunteer of the Year award.

The award, given out by the Friends of North Carolina Public Libraries, goes to a member that has gone above and beyond in their work for the library he or she works at.

“John to us is the perfect volunteer and he is always looking for something to do to help,” said Clint Johnson, president of the Friends of the Ashe County Public Library.

MacConnell has been with the library since 1997. Throughout his time there, he has served as president and vice president of the Friends and continues to contribute to different events throughout the year.

Most recently, he was part of the Human Library program, where people can “check-out” experts on topics for one-on-one conversations.

“When the library started The Human Library, a new outreach program, John readily volunteered to ‘be catalouged,’” said Suzanne Moore, chief librarian for the Ashe County Public Library.

MacConnell also serves as part of the friend’s gift shop team and works every Wednesday to help stack and clean the books.

MacConnell was recognized at an event in Raleigh on Saturday, but he was unable to attend. Members of the Friends threw a surprise celebration for MacConnell Wednesday morning to celebrate his award.

“Thank you so much,” he said. “This is a wonderful honor.”

Karen Moll, president of the Friends of North Carolina Public Libraries and head of publicity for the Friends of the Ashe County Public Library said she has known MacConnell since becoming a member.

“He is what you want your friends members to be like,” she said.

Moore echoed that feeling, saying that MacConnell has been influential to many of the library’s patrons.

“I would have to say that John’s love of books and enthusiasm for sharing them has inspired many to read and discover great things,” she said.

MacConnell’s efforts in the county can be attributed to much of the library’s success. Johnson said that MacConnell epitomizes what it means to be a volunteer in the county.

“We’re always looking for people who love the library and love the process of reading and helping Ashe County,” he said. “If we could duplicate him with every person in Ashe County, we’d be the most powerful volunteer organization in the state.”