In a library at Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Center, sign next to a red folder and a window declares, "Librarian on Duty"

Come to Adelynrood for the Libraries

by Denise Frame Harlan, Companion, Parker River Chapter

Come to Adelynrood for the Libraries

``I might claim the libraries—five libraries!—as the heart of Adelynrood.``

I suspect each of us who love Adelynrood could claim a different part of the retreat center as “the heart” of Adelynrood. Guests love the morning canticle recited from the porches, the Peace Garden, the Compline service, the meals.

I might claim the libraries—five libraries!—as the heart of Adelynrood. These are not merely houses for books—these collections are curated to encourage you to curl up and settle into some reading for spiritual depth or for sheer entertainment. Each library has comfortable chairs and windows to welcome you to rest. We also have a mix of classics and contemporary books, and a collection of extraordinary prayer books and devotionals.



We would love for you to drop in, introduce yourself to the hostess (and get a name-tag), and find yourself a rocking chair or armchair for the afternoon.



Perhaps you are coming from a great distance, and it’s not convenient to drop in. While Adelynrood has a professional staff, many of the day-to-day functions are managed by volunteers. Companions and Friends of Adelynrood lodge in the retreat center and eat Adam’s extraordinary food, in exchange for four-to-six hours of work each day.

Volunteers-in-training learn each role: staffing the hostess desk, maintaining the gardens, managing technology for events, serving as sacristans in the chapel, acting as librarian, and of course Other Tasks as Needed.

After your training, you can volunteer for a week or two during the summer season, to keep Adelynrood running. It’s a wonderful way to support Adelynrood and become a practical part of the community.



In 2017, I was training a library volunteer, and I wrote the following quiz for her amusement:

    1. What is the most frequently asked question in the library?
    2. How many libraries are housed at Adelynrood?
    3. Can patrons use the card catalog computer for anything except the card catalog?
    4. What’s the BEST line in the Librarian Manual at Adelynrood?

 Here is the answer key:

A1. Where is the restroom?

A2. FIVE libraries in FIVE different parts of the house.

A3. The card catalog computer will practically explode if used for anything except the card catalog—but at least we have a card catalog.

A4. “As we all know, very few people actually read instructions, let alone follow them.”


The library also has a Librarian’s Journal, in a stack of a dozen spiral-bound notebooks in a drawer, and the librarian is expected to post her activities for the day. Here’s my post from June 8, 2017:


Today my closing duties included:

Restocking the bins of firewood

Adding four titles to the list of overdue books from 2015 

Finding out why four books had no labels on the spines (it’s because these books are from the 1950s, and the tradition of labels on spines is “newer.”)

Talking at length with one of Lauren Winner’s parishioners (who is also visiting the retreat house) about using independent booksellers rather than Amazon– I typed the magic words into her iPhone, “Eighth Day Books” and “Hearts & Minds.” (I am friends with the owners of each of these phenomenal independent booksellers, and you should type those bookstores into your phone, too!)

Conversation with Fr. Martin Smith over lunch, after displaying half a dozen of his titles in the library.

Offering an impromptu review of a Phyllis Tickle title on The Fourth Great Awakening, which she believes is happening right now.

Reading from Jeremiah during the noonday chapel service.

Finishing the jigsaw puzzle that everyone hates. It’s a kind of mercy to be done with it.

I’ve had a wonderful week, with each day framed by prayer. Each meal was delicious and health-conscious. We spent many evenings ’round the fireplace, laughing and talking. What a life-giving break it’s been!



If you are interested in volunteering, please get in touch with Pat Trumbull via

If you are interested in coming to visit the libraries, call the hostess at 978-462-6721 and make arrangements for a quiet afternoon at Adelynrood.

Make a reservation for a lunch or dinner, also, and talk with us about what it’s like to be A Companion—or a volunteer.

We’d love for you to get to know our community. 


Image credit: photo by Denise Frame Harlan