Bittersweet Farewell to Volunteering at JAHM and CHL


Today was my last day to volunteer at Chawton House Library. Friday was my last day at Jane Austen’s House Museum. Of course, this will not be the last time I go to these places, but in the future I don’t suppose that I will be a volunteer. I will go back to that other category: visitor.

Today was a good day to finish up my stewardship. It seemed that all of the visitors to the Lower Reading Room (shown above in the pic) wanted to asked me questions or just chat with me about Austen, books, and women writers. This is what I had in mind when I thought of volunteering. I knew that I had something to offer in terms of knowledge, but after six weeks of being here, that knowledge base has grown by leaps and bounds. It has been my pleasure to share what I knew and definitely what I have learned here in Chawton.

As a sign of goodwill, I encouraged those bright-eyed visitors to return to CHL and check out a book. It’s so easy to do this. You contact a librarian, make an appointment, and read a book. This library welcomes readers of all kinds–scholars, students, and anyone from the general public. This openness is what makes CHL a great place to do research. Oh, yeah, let’s not forget the store of women’s writing, of course!

Closing the houses on Friday and Monday was bittersweet. It has been so awesome to be a part of the routines in these houses. It has been amazing to have these quiet moments with all of the items in the rooms, not to mention the specters of former inhabitants. šŸ™‚ It was fantastic to be surrounded by 18th- and 19th-century books at CHL and by the Austens’ own belongings in JAHM. How I will miss this closeness.

To close this post, here are a few pics of my morning routine. I don’t like to end on a sad note, and I hate goodbyes, so I leave you with a good morning at CHL!

Removing the display cover in the Great Hall

Pulling back the curtains in the dining room and saying hi to Edward Knight

Getting the upstairs rooms ready (note the door that opens to a door)

Getting the humidifiers ready for the day

After this, it’s on to writing, reading, and sitting! šŸ˜‰

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