top of page

Meet Trish Elliott: Volunteer Extraordinaire

Updated: Jun 11, 2022

In this Q&A by Friends President Kathryn Sterbenc, you'll meet the indispensable and irrepressible Trish Elliott with 20+ years of service at The Bookmark.

When you join the Friends of the OPL or renew your membership, you don’t get a generic form letter. You get a personalized, handwritten message from one of the amazing volunteers who are the lifeblood of our organization. Odds are excellent that you might be lucky enough to receive a note from the amazing Trish Elliott.

Trish is a longtime volunteer at the Bookmark Bookstore, and she has been an invaluable part of our Membership team for many years.

When did you start volunteering with the Friends?

I’ve been part of the Membership team from before it was a team. For many years, it was Winifred (Walters) and myself. I began volunteering while I still worked at Kaiser, a little more than 20 years ago. One day, a Thursday, I was taking a break, sitting in my little office reading the Oakland Tribune. Every Thursday in the local section, there was a page listing ads from organizations that were looking for volunteers. That was how I learned of the Bookmark Bookstore. I made an appointment to meet Bob (Frey) on a Saturday. We talked and walked around the store, and I fell in love. The rest is history!

What’s it like to volunteer at our beloved Bookmark?

My shift was 2:30-5:30 on Saturdays. I met Anne Rosenbaum; she was our cashier. I met Hanh-Nhan. I met Winifred, who happened to be there, sweeping the floor! I was assigned all manner of tasks, which included cleaning and pricing books, purging books that had been on the shelf at least 30 days, acquainting customers to our various subject areas, working the cash register, and correcting misshelved books.

After a while, I began recruiting fellow temple members from Torah Study to join FOPL, if they lived in Oakland. I branched out and recruited members of Social Action, and then just anyone I came across who I knew loved to read. It was easy for me because I feel passionate about libraries and the many services they provide, especially to our underserved population and the kids.

Before I settled down to work, I liked to browse the shelves. I enjoyed picking out and buying books I thought my friends would enjoy. I have always treasured my time at the Bookmark.

What gives you the most pride about your Friends service?

The thing I feel proudest of is choosing to write a personal note on each renewal postcard to express our appreciation for each person. I can tell from their membership number how long they have been with us, (or) if they renewed after lapsing for a while. I make notes on which member has increased the level of dues/donation. I address them by first name and I sign it ‘Trish.’

I do what I can to make it personal. I speak of loyalty, if it’s a long-term member. I speak specifically to new members renewing for the first time. If I know them personally, I refer to something that we have shared in the past. I have done this since we had to close the store (due to COVID). And I still am!

What’s your favorite thing about the Bookmark?

I tell people, “Don’t shop there to find the latest bestseller, although occasionally you may find it. Give yourself time to browse, and you will find treasures you didn’t know existed.”

Favorite Book:

“A Girl of the Limberlost” by Gene Stratton-Porter (1909). I read it in high school from the school library and have since re-read it twice. And “The Elephant Whisperer” by Lawrence Anthony.

Why I Love OPL:

I love the library because the library welcomes everyone. One or both of my parents started taking me to our town’s library when I was in the third grade. Another reason is their creativity. Their motto should be, “Find a need and fill it.”

My favorite branch:

My favorite is always my local branch, which currently is Dimond. I adore the librarians there! Sarah, Rebecca, and others whose names I never learned. My current favorite story is about their recent policy of displaying a few books eligible for extended borrows. It’s how I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Water Dancer.”


bottom of page