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Group fosters reading in community

Friends of the Library

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POSTED: March 30, 2011 1:13 p.m.
Photo by Katie McGurl/

Maddalynn Russell browses the Friends of the Library children's book shelf with a friend.

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Sometimes, when life gets difficult, we get by with a little help from our friends.

In times of economic uncertainty, Richmond Hill Public Library turns to Friends of the Library (FOL).

“We touch base and work with (library manager) Kate Barker in identifying needs that the library has that are not being met through their normal budgetary process,” said Susan Johnson, president of Friends of the Library. “Then we kind of supplement in any way we can.”

The non-profit group makes special purchases for the library, including large-print books, research books, children’s books, and book series requested by local teachers. They also purchased the library’s conference tables and chairs, used regularly by the various groups that meet there.

“Everyone that comes in is benefitting from Friends of the Library,” said Johnson.

Kate Barker expressed how much the library appreciates FOL.  She said it would be hard to get by without their help. 

Johnson explained, “Right now, with all the state budget cuts, I don't think people understand the impact that these cuts are having on libraries.”

Mickey Trimble, former president, said that although the library’s funding goes down each year, staffers are “very dedicated and they love what they do, and we want to support them every way we can.”

FOL makes money through the sale of donated books, member dues and fundraisers.

Donated books are sold on the FOL shelves in the library, located to the left of the checkout counter. Hardbacks cost $1 and paperbacks cost 50 cents. Prices of children’s books vary, but usually cost 10 cents or 25 cents.  A library card is not required to purchase books.

The Friends of the Library book and yard sale is their big annual fundraiser. It will take place this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the library. Books and household goods may be donated for the sale through Friday, but FOL is happy to accept book donations at any time.

“We really are always in need of children’s books because they go out as fast as they come in,” said Trimble. 

Their Buy-A-Book campaign will begin in May. It gives local businesses the chance to sponsor the purchase of books for the library. Books purchased will have a bookplate with the name of the sponsoring business.

 “It's a nice way to get their names out there and to let people know that they've contributed to the community as a whole,” said Johnson.

Individuals can get involved by joining Friends of the Library. Annual dues are $10 per person or $20 per family. Members can help many different ways.

“Whether it's coming and volunteering here, or just talking to your neighbors and asking them to donate books or things for us to resell, it’s a big help,” Johnson said. “The library is the heart of the community because it's the guardian of ideas. Here, you can come and go anywhere you want to, learn anything you want to, and to me that's so important in a free nation.”

 

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