2014-10-17 / In the Know

Celebrating friends of public library

By Linda Elliott
Special to the Leader

Oct. 19-25 marks the ninth annual celebration of National Friends of Libraries week.

This makes it the perfect time for us to extend our deepest gratitude to all who have been and continue to be Friends of the Scarborough Library.

Since 1970, this volunteer organization has existed with the express purpose of enhancing our library through programs, services, financial support and public promotion.

Over the years, the friends have supported some of our best programs for both children and adults. In the early years of the organization, the friends began our children’s services by offering story times and purchasing child-sized furniture for a reading corner.

As the library added staff dedicated to literacy and children’s services, the Friends continued their support through special programs.

Today, the friends are the sponsor of our annual summer reading program which registered 649 youth this past summer.

This themed program is one of the highlights of summer for many kids and is a stepping stone for children to be engaged readers.

Also in the late 1970s the first largetype book collection was started with a grant solicited and matched by the friends.

They organized a program to deliver books to shut-ins and used the largetype book collection with many of the clients. Our outreach program continues today with the help of volunteers.

Our large-type book collection also continues to increase and has found a new audience with screen-weary readers who appreciate the font size.

The Friends are keenly aware of the need for the library to offer traditional and new technologies. This year they have generously funded a “shelf” within our 3M Cloud Digital Book collection.

This allows the library to offer even more books for patrons using this fantastic service.

Recently, the friends began an adult literature series that has been a great success and frankly, great fun.

This year’s program, “Farm to Table” kicked off on Oct. 5 with Dave Colson, director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International will be the speaker on Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. and Stacy Brenner and John Bliss (of Broadturn Farm) will be the presenters on Jan. 18 starting at 2 p.m.

All of these programs are free and open to the public thanks to our Friends.

Year after year, the friends have donated discounted passes to the Maine Wildlife Park, the Children’s Museum of Maine, Willowbrook Village, the Portland Museum of Art, and more recently, the Tate House.

So, not only do they make our library a better place to be with more services, they also provide opportunities for cardholders to enrich their lives through programs and places outside the walls of our library.

Donations and public attention provided by the friends are never more obvious to our community than during the Friends of the Scarborough Library Annual Book Sale in June.

Since 2001, the friends have been running this event, which is their biggest fundraiser.

Our friends spend months moving, sorting, storing and organizing thousands upon thousands of books. To say that this is no small task is an understatement.

As stated on its website, scarboroughlibraryfriends.org, the friends have donated over $65,000 to the library in just the past 15 years.

They have formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and from their early days they have grown to become one of the largest library friends groups in the state.

Time and time again, these members of our community have gone out of their way to enhance the services and programs offered by the library.

The Friends of the Scarborough Library truly are some of the best friends a library and community could ever ask for.

Linda Elliott is president of the Scarborough Public Library Board of Trustees.

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