HUDSON — The dark, polished shelves hold like-new books, shiny and beckoning and meticulously organized by the Dewey Decimal System.
The residents at Atria Windsor Woods are the lucky patrons who come to borrow books from the senior community's library, which Lois Neubrand, 92, has maintained for nearly two decades. She volunteers there every day, at least for a short time, and even when her attention is drawn to visitors she walks to the shelves and puts things in order, saying it has to be done.
It's her library — though she will quickly correct that statement and say it belongs to all the residents — and the plaque that went up this week makes it official:
The Lois Neubrand Library.
"I'm going to wake up in the middle of the night and it's going to hit me," she said, her eyes sparkling with excitement at a ribbon-cutting Wednesday for the renamed library.
Neubrand has the caring and precise demeanor of a librarian, rooted in a love of books that goes back to childhood. She was a sickly youngster who spent hours in bed some days with books for company.
In her 20s, she worked for a couple of years as a page at the Carnegie Mellon University library in Pittsburgh. In hindsight, she said, she should have pursued studies in librarianship. Instead she worked at Bell Telephone Co., was a receptionist at Mack Trucks, then worked for a bakery delivery service during World War II.
"I did lots of things without being a master at any," Neubrand said, laughing.
In 1951, she and her husband, Bill, moved from Pennsylvania to New Port Richey and opened a Western Auto Associates store, which they ran for 12 years before retiring.
After her husband's death, Neubrand lived alone for awhile, then moved to Atria Windsor Woods in 1990. She was looking for something to do. Being a book lover — her favorite, without hesitation, is To Kill a Mockingbird — she offered to help at the community's library.
One look at the collection and her knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System from those Carnegie Mellon days came flooding back. In time, she reorganized the entire collection of some 1,500 books, mostly donated volumes except for large-print books purchased with donations.
Neubrand keeps an orderly system for patrons to sign cards taking out hardback books. Paperbacks come and go on the honor system. The books can be kept for a month, but most are promptly returned within a week, she said. Neubrand carefully files the books back in place.
She recalls three residents who self-published poetry books. Those were added to the collection.
"It's been real special to know that people who lived here had their books in our library," Neubrand said.
Has she encountered any problems as volunteer librarian? Yes, although she didn't want to discuss the matter until it's resolved.
"It's going to get straightened out, one way or the other," Neubrand said with a firm determination that leaves no doubt she'll set things straight.
During Tuesday's dinner hour at the assisted living facility, engage life director Linda Nichols took the microphone and read the plaque naming the library for Neubrand.
The presentation was a surprise for Neubrand, who dabbed away tears and stared at the plaque. Cheers went up. Staff and friends congratulated her.
Viola Becker rolled up in her wheelchair, extended her hand and with a beaming smile said, "No one deserves this more than Lois. She's a great person and does a great job for us."