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Friends reflect on good first year

My love for libraries goes way back. Even before I was old enough to read, I can remember going with my mother to pick out books at the Columbus library.

While my mother looked for her own books, I climbed into one of the chairs in the children’s room and stared at the pages of the picture books, imagining the stories my mother would be reading to me when we got home.

Later, after I had a few years of school behind me, I used to look forward to the twice-a-month stops the library’s bookmobile made to the end of our driveway. As the hot summer sun beat down, I’d trudge back up the long gravel driveway with a stack of books in my arms.

Reading became a lifelong passion for me, fueled by infusions from a book-loving family and regular library and bookstore visits over the years.

So it was with particular interest that I learned of the forming of the local Friends of the Library group last February in Brookhaven.

Now just over a year old, the Friends have raised around $10,000 in equipment and funds for the Lincoln County Library, Pam Womack, Friends president and organizer, told me Monday.

“We had a fabulous first year,” Womack said. “People gave money and time.”

The organization’s mission is two-fold: to help provide funds to the library and to help promote it.

Right now, additional business sponsorships would help, Womack said. “We had some great business sponsors last year.”

In addition to soliciting memberships and sponsorships, the group holds fundraisers throughout the year. Upcoming events include book sales in April, during the summer and in November. The April sale coincides with National Library Week, which is April 15-20 this year.

Friends members volunteer to serve at the sales, and also to put up monthly displays at the library to highlight various books for the month. This month, a display featured love stories in honor of Valentine’s Day.

A silent auction also is in the works for National Library Week as yet another fundraising event.

Womack said Friends member Eric Kaplan actually runs the book sales and also takes the books that won’t sell to the nursing homes as an outreach service.

“What can’t be donated are recyclable,” Womack said of the various uses for books left over from the sales.

The Friends also have an ongoing table of clearance books for sale on the first floor of the library.

What began a year ago as a vision from Womack and a few other book lovers has become a vital resource for the local library.

Last Thursday’s Friends meeting and Valentine dessert event saw a turnout of 35 people, and several new members signed up. But still more are needed. “You pay to volunteer,” Womack said, smiling. For book lovers, it is a labor of love.

Besides Womack, the group’s executive board consists of David Holland, vice president; Katherine Bumgarner, secretary; and Dott Cannon, treasurer.

If you like books and have some time you can share, contact any of the officers and tell them you’re interested in becoming a Friend, or watch the events calendar listings of The Daily Leader and make plans to attend the next meeting.

They’ll welcome your help, and the library – and Lincoln County – will the better for it.

Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at reide@dailyleader.com.