The ‘six weeks’ volunteer who has clocked up 21 years’ service

It should have been a simple six weeks employment placement at Scarborough library but Crispin Keeper enjoyed the work so much he stayed on as a volunteer – and more than two decades later is still there.

Crispin has lost count of the thousands of items he has processed over the years but he is known as an asset to the library team, who are responsible for providing the public with a high-quality service in the town.

His career with the library has echoes of Victor Kiam’s famous 1970s claim that he loved his electric shaver so much that he bought the Remington company – though Crispin’s dedication to the library and its users has not been subject to any advertising spin.

He joined in an era when North Yorkshire was running an adult learning programme designed to capitalise on individuals’ abilities to get them into roles where they could use their skills.

While the placement was for six weeks, Crispin, now aged 60, felt so at home he continued to volunteer and this month his tenure at the library reached the ‘key to the door’ status of 21 years.

Despite his years of dedicated duty, Crispin has no plans to stop his weekly sessions and said: “I really like the people I work with. I read myself, so understand why libraries are so important and I will carry on doing this.

“Every day is different, it is a case of helping out with whatever needs doing.”

That can range from photocopying, helping with stock, re-siting books to other branches and researching titles.

The work has seen him become part of the fabric of the library operation in Scarborough, where there is currently a need for similar volunteers.

Area Librarian Nicola Dengate said: “Having volunteers in libraries is mutually beneficial, because without them we simply would not be able to provide the range of services we do.

“Many of our volunteers tell us they get great personal benefits from the social aspects of being involved with the work. There is also the opportunity for people to gain new skills.

“If people are keen to lend a hand at their local library branch, we are always in need of new volunteers and would be delighted to hear from anyone who has an interest,” she said.

Cllr Greg White, North Yorkshire’s executive member for libraries, said: “Volunteers help to make North Yorkshire such a good place to live and Crispin is a superb example of those who work for the benefit of others.

“His experience shows that volunteering is also a fulfilling activity and those who have an interest in getting involved should be encouraged by his example.”

Anyone who is interested in volunteering with the North Yorkshire library service should visit their local branch.