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Face Behind the Books: Barb Efaw

photo of Barb EfawMeet Barb Efaw, Volunteer Extraordinaire!

For Barb Efaw books have always been an integral part of her life. Married for 54 years to her now deceased college sweetheart Larry, Barb is a retired elementary school teacher who taught second through fourth grade students in both Atlanta and Bloomington, Illinois.

Barb and Larry shared a passion for reading that spanned both their careers and was passed along to their family. For 40 years Larry worked in a management role at Library Book Selection Service (LBSS), a not-for-profit organization that reviewed books for school libraries from kindergarten through high school. LBSS produced a preferred reading list that librarians and teachers throughout the country like Barb came to rely on. A mother of two (David Efaw and Diane Gunz) and grandmother of Katya, Caleb and Keaton, Barb continues to share her passion for reading.

How Did Barb Get Involved with Books to Benefit?

After retiring and losing her husband Larry, Barb looked for a volunteer opportunity that would feed her passion for reading and allow her to share that passion with others. As luck would have it, Books to Benefit was in its infancy and needed knowledgeable, dedicated volunteers. She signed up and has remained for nearly 5 years.

“I have never seen anything like this. Every kind of book comes through here! Things I have never seen before and never knew existed,” added Barb beaming from ear to ear. “You just can’t believe what comes here [to Books to Benefit].  I tell people all the time, if you a looking for a book we are likely to have it.”

Marshmallow book coverWhat is Barb’s Most Memorable Books to Benefit Story?

“I came across a children’s book that I read in the 40s. What memories that brought back!” she shared. The book that Barb found was a Caldecott Medal winner, Marshmallow, by Clare Turlay Newberry originally published in 1942.

“Gems like this one can be found among the stacks. Books are rich with history and simply must be shared,” Barb commented.

Picture of Dorian Gray book cover“I absolutely enjoy the sales. Connecting people with books ignites my passion. I remember helping a young college student find a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. She was so excited to learn it was among our collection,” Barb shared.

“Suggesting authors that are new to patrons is especially exciting. At one of the sales a lady came in looking for a mystery book that was not full of death. I introduced her to Sydney Sheldon – an author many young people don’t know about. He writes a terrific story.” For nostalgic TV buffs, the name Sydney Sheldon is likely to conjure memories of the shows he produced, including: I Dream of Jeannie, The Patty Duke Show and Hart to Hart.

What Are Barb’s Favorite Books?

Barb’s genre is history and some fiction. Books on Mary Queen of Scots, Henry VIII and European history pique her interest.

Recently Barb came across another treasure that explored the history of nursery rhymes, written by an author from Bloomington who lived in Westminster did a lot of research so the knowledge wouldn’t disappear.

History and Gossip in Mother Goose Rhymes book coverThe book called, History and Gossip in Mother Goose Rhymes by Mason Purnell Johnson, describes the origin of many popular rhymes. It seems Mother Goose rhymes were composed over several centuries in Britain as satire or criticism of the leaders of the time, most often royalty. One rhyme in particular stands out for Barb – Rock-a-bye Baby.

“The baby in the rhyme was the son of Mary Queen of Scots who had fallen out of favor. The verse that reads, ‘When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,’ is a direct reference to abdication in favor of her son who was a dual king, James IV of England and James I of Scotland,” Barb eagerly shared.

What does Barb do when she is not volunteering?

Barb loves to spend time with family and passionately shares her love for reading with her grandchildren. Her son David, an oral surgeon with Doran, Capodice and Efaw, shared a note from one of Barb’s first students thanking her for passing along her life-long love of reading which she has in turn passed along to her family.

Books have truly had a profound effect on Barb. She has crocheted all her life – what else but stuffed literary animals like Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear!

When you don’t find her hunting for treasures among the stacks you may just see Barb on the beach hunting for sea glass.