Where in Perry are you able to meet Iowa celebrities (e.g., Brian Duffy, Chuck Offenburger, Mollie and Kevin Cooney, etc.), long-time Perry residents with wonderful historical stories, people from near and far with unique backgrounds and experiences to share, and generally inte`resting people who will expand your knowledge and add a truly positive interaction to your day? And how often are you able to interact with such people in an historic setting, beautifully restored and in your back yard? All that and more takes place in the Carnegie Library Museum on the town’s triangle just east of our Public Library.

In the few months that I’ve been volunteering at the Carnegie Library Museum I’ve not only gotten to know my co-volunteers more, but so many other people. I’ve met Al Jacobs of Jefferson who was willing to haul four of his vintage bicycles to the Carnegie. I learned that he bought his first vintage bicycle from a neighbor for $25 and his second purchase was a gift for his wife. (I wondered if that was like when my little brother use to buy toy tractors for my Daddy for his birthday!) I’ve learned about the hand-made tricycle that Jim Walstrom’s dad made for the neighborhood kids to ride and I’ve heard first-hand about the first BRR and how it came to be. I’ve learned about Elsie Mace’s dad who didn’t think airline flight had a thing over travelling in style on the Hiawatha and about Arlene Hammond’s wonderful surprise visit at the Perry Depot as her special man was headed off to the service.

I’ve gotten to meet cartoonist Brian Duffy and ask him questions about his artwork and chat with Mollie and Kevin Cooney of KCCI as they toured the Carnegie Library Museum. Ever mindful of our lack of funding and zero budget I joked with Kevin that we may auction off his guest book signature on eBay and he chuckled as he replied, "Yeah, for about a buck twenty-five."

The experiences and opportunities are truly endless and one-of-a-kind, and yet none of these experiences would have happened if I had not been volunteering at Perry’s beautiful Carnegie Library Museum. It’s a place like no other—where experiences COME to YOU. How can you miss out?

If you haven’t been paying attention you’ve missed a lot that’s been going on at the Carnegie—Bill Wagner’s churches of the world exhibit; BRR t-shirts; vintage Valentine’s Day cards; Brain Duffy originals; train memorabilia; vintage bikes; owl presentations; kids’ fest with balloon animals, face painting, crafts, games, and snakes; and MORE. (The cartoons and train memorabilia are currently on display. Visit us Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. We’re also open Friday, August 23 from 4 to 8 p.m.)

Of course, it is a volunteer gig so there’s no monetary benefit, but the non-monetary benefits truly are rewarding. What is it that motivates you? Interacting with people and building relationships?—Got it. Beautiful architecture?—Got it. Shelves and shelves of books to explore including a portion of the first 1,000 books in the library?—Got it. Andrew Carnegie and the times he lived in, his business success or history in general?—Got it. The court system?—Got it. Quilts or murals?—Got it. Utilizing technology (e.g., computers and a DVD display system)?—Got it. Experiencing things that can be experienced nowhere else in Perry?—Got it. Providing a one-of-a-kind cultural experience to the people of Perry and the surrounding areas?—Got it.

The skills someone can utilize, develop and strengthen are endless as well—interpersonal skills, communication, marketing, relationship building, customer service, planning and organization, etc. These are valuable skills that will transfer to almost any endeavor, volunteer or otherwise.

When reaching out to Brian Duffy I introduced myself as a "lowly volunteer of the beautiful Carnegie Library Museum." His gracious reply to me ended with "PS: You are not a lowly volunteer. It is wonderful people like yourself that keep these treasures alive and for that I thank you."

Over the past several months the traffic at the Carnegie has been increasing. With more passionate, creative, dedicated volunteers we can continue our progress and move this Perry gem even more to the forefront. For as little as a 2-hour commitment a month (yup, only 2 hours per month), you too can be part of this Carnegie movement. Brian’s statement to me applies to so many in our town. Perry is brimming with wonderful people who work tirelessly in many different ways to showcase all we have to offer. I hope that some of you will contact Katie Schott at 465-3809 and chat with her about being a "non-lowly volunteer" who will help keep the Carnegie treasure alive. Thank you.

Laura Stebbins