One for the books

For 15 years, volunteer Marion Hull has been helping things run smoothly at the Coddingtown branch of the Sonoma County library


If you’ve ever requested a book from the public library branch at Santa Rosa’s Coddingtown shopping center, Marion Hull may have helped you get it.

“It may have been my hot little hands that pulled it off the shelf,” said Hull, an 84-year-old grandmother who has volunteered at the Sonoma County Library’s Northwest Branch for 15 years.

Hull began helping there in 1997, about a year after she retired as a senior auditor for State Compensation Insurance Fund.

LIBRARY FRIEND: Marion Hull pauses among the volumes at the Northwest Santa Rosa Library, where she has volunteers three mornings a week. (ALVIN JORNADA / The Press Democrat)

The volunteer work gives her reason to get up in the morning, she said. It also helps the library function properly.

“When the books come back, somebody has to put them back in the right place,” Hull said. As such, the volunteers spend hours each week shelving books.

Kathy Nixon, the Northwest Branch manager, said Hull and her fellow helpers make a big difference.

“We just really do depend on the volunteers,” she said.

Nixon praised Hull as a dependable worker who takes initiative and “comes in with a smile and a can-do attitude.”

“She just does a wide range of things for us, and does them well,” Nixon said.

Hull typically volunteers three mornings a week. She mostly shelves books, but also pulls copies that have been placed on hold and that, when necessary, will be shipped to patrons at other branches.

She also keeps track of the hours worked by each branch volunteer, who all are covered by a state workers compensation program. Such record keeping is familiar, she said, because “when I was with state fund, I audited the library.”

In the last quarter of 2012, she said, the Northwest Branch had 17 volunteers who contributed a total of 306 hours.

A native of Flint, Mich., Hull received a home economics degree from Michigan State University. She came to California in 1956 and to Santa Rosa in 1962.

Before working 13 years with the compensation insurance fund, she taught part time in home economics at Montgomery High School and served as an adjunct instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College. She also worked in the office of longtime stockbroker Leonard Talbot, for whom the streets Leonard and Talbot avenues are named in east Santa Rosa.

Divorced, with three children and one grandchild, Hull said she chose to volunteer “because I’m a reader and I know how important libraries are.”

She enjoys mysteries, but also the works of Jane Austen.

Hull also volunteers at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and is a member of the Santa Rosa chapter of the American Sewing Guild, which produces quilts for children who have faced a variety of traumatic experiences.

All the volunteer work provides an added benefit, she said. If afterward she wants to go home and read, “I can do it the rest of the day and not feel guilty.”

(You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or