FREDERICSKSBURG — Without the community, there would be no Fredericksburg Library; and without the library, a cultural, literary and social gap would exist within the community.

Over the years, the volunteer library has become all things to all people and its purpose can best be summed up in one word — destination.

It's a destination within reach for its residents, from people who can walk there after work to school children who make it an after-school stop.

"I like to help out," said volunteer Lee Fitzsimmons, a banker who has been filling a time slot for the last 10 years at the independent library staffed by volunteers.

Fitzsimmons became involved in the community first as a local lender, he said, and also through bringing people from his church to Fredericksburg to bike on the Holmes County Trail.

"I stamp the books," he said, because the library is encased in time with a historic, but usable, card catalogue and hand-stamping, as well as a book inventory that takes children back to the days of the Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew.

Often, Fitzsimmons said, when school ends for the week, "Kids stop down to get a book for the weekend."

Fitzsimmons said the library is a benefit to Amish schoolteachers who don't have books in their classroom and borrow them an armload at a time.

"It's a great thing to have in Fredericksburg," said Anna R. Swartzentruber, an employee at the local market.

"I like to come in after work and grab a book," she said, adding, "My whole family enjoys it."

"I walk to work," said Swartzentruber, and "I just love (the library)," including the opportunity to "look through all the (local) history books and see what I can find."

In fact, that's one of the ways the library evolved, according to Jane Braddock, the library's director.

Because Fredericksburg doesn't have a historical society, the library "has become a repository of history and archival items," Braddock said.

Because the village also does not have a community center, the library additionally functions in that role, she said, serving as a gathering place for meetings, activities and events.

For example, said Swatzentruber, "A lot of kids enjoy the library story hour on Wednesdays;" and during the Christmas season, "they made a gingerbread house."

Phyllis Young, a board member for the library, started out as a volunteer, she said, and as a patron.

When she researched starting a small livestock farm, she depended on the Fredericksburg library to get information on goats, ducks and rabbits.

"I took (the books) home, renewed them a couple of times," and then returned for more, Young said. The library is "just really, really handy."

"It is such a central meeting place," she said, noting another purpose it serves for one of her many endeavors is a place to lay out quilts, some of which she and fellow quilters have donated as a service project. It's one of the fine arts she can teach to others using space at the library.

"Last year I organized a seed swap," Young said. "This year I plan to expand it with plants."

Young additionally highlighted Wonder Bus trips, the cost of which is supplemented by sponsors, allowing patrons who might not be able to go on their own to join others on excursions to places such as COSI, Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden.

"This year we're going on the Good Time II," she said.

The library originated in a clearly grassroots effort, spearheaded, Braddock said, by four mothers praying for children in the surrounding schools and wanting a place for them to gather after school.

"Our love for children is still what drives me," Braddock said, as is her commitment to literacy.

"We believe in children being read to from babies," she said.

"I believe there is still a place for books," she said. "I won't give up on that."

The library is an asset to families in other ways, particularly in providing "an opportunity for families to do things together," Braddock said.

Among the programs for children are a summer reading program and an Explorers nature club for fourth- through sixth-grade students assisted by certified naturalists.

Many benefactors — individuals, businesses, organizations, Salt Creek township trustees, American Legion Post 651 and grantors — have contributed time, money and supplies over the life of the library, which celebrated 20 years in 2018.

The Library Roll Bicycle Tour, the library's annual fundraiser, drew 153 riders from four states last year.

"It's a real blessing to live in a community so supportive of making our community a better place," said Braddock.

More details

Name: Fredericksburg Community Library

About: Independent library run by volunteers

How to help: Volunteers clean, sort and check out books and help with programs

Phone: 330-695-2420