Although Jim Cannon retired in 2002, he spends most of his days at 480 Primrose Road in Burlingame laboring away in the basement.
Cannon, 71, has lived in Burlingame for more than 40 years and volunteers 30 to 50 hours a week for the Burlingame Library Foundation. He is a board member and past president of the foundation. Right now, the foundation is hosting its semi-annual book drive, which raised more than $73,000 last year alone.
“I enjoy it, that’s for sure,” said Cannon, who is also a trustee on the San Mateo County Board of Education. “In a way it’s like being a little kid again. Retirement is like summer vacation. There’s a lot of nice people here and we make a lot of money for the library.”
The library has upped its fundraising in recent years, said Cannon, who manages book donations. In recent years, it has pushed annual fundraising totals from $20,000 to $70,000 through multiple mechanisms, he said.
The first mechanism is the fact that the community has responded positively to the sales by donating more. Additionally, the foundation posts more than 5,000 rare or expensive books worth more than $15 each on Amazon and other sites. The library now has someone who specifically handles the circulation desk book sale. The foundation also searches the website BookScouter, which aggregates book prices and tells you what companies are interested in the book and what they’ll pay.
San Francisco-born Cannon attended San Francisco State University, then went on to get a teaching credential. He traveled to Colombia and joined the Peace Corps for two years.
He has been married to his wife Kristine for 45 “glorious years,” he said. Kristine Cannon helped found the Library Foundation in 1995. City Librarian Alfred Escoffier had asked Kristine Cannon and Mary Armstrong to help organize the foundation in 1994 since the two were both involved in the library and liked doing projects.
“Budgets weren’t going to keep up with the library needs,” said the father of two daughters.
Besides his involvement with the library, Cannon has been in the education sphere for years. He served as principal at Colma Elementary School in Daly City, was a member of the Burlingame Elementary School District Board of Trustees, an assistant principal at Ben Franklin Intermediate School and an interim principal of Burlingame Intermediate School and Washington Elementary School. He also taught at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School and other schools. He taught Spanish, physical education and English as a second language.
When he was principal at Colma, the school was named a California distinguished school and was a Title 1 achieving school. Then-governor Gray Davis visited the school and presented it with a $28,000 check after the school did well on testing. The school invested in good computers for its classrooms.
These days, Cannon travels with his wife to countries like France, Italy and Spain and will be back in Colombia next week. He learns French in his free time. Most of his days are spent at the library though.
“Honestly, it’s a little embarrassing, other than the Board of Education, this [the library] is it,” he said. “I don’t have any thoughts of leaving and we’re getting more volunteers each year.”
The Burlingame Library Foundation Book Sale continues today 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and tomorrow 1 p.m.-4 p.m. at the Burlingame Public Library, 480 Primrose Road. There will be $6 bags of books tomorrow. Book prices range from 25 cents to $5. The library also takes donations year round.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105