Posts Tagged ‘volunteerism’

Friends Can Really Make a Big Difference

September 24, 2008
Freinds of Libraries Annual Meeting, Columbus Public Library

Freinds of Libraries Annual Meeting, Columbus Public Library

   It’s always good to get together with Friends. Yes, the capital “f” was intentional, because I am talking about the Friends of Libraries. The non-profit Chattahoochee Valley Library System support group held its annual meeting last night at the the impressive new Columbus Library that it had a big hand in getting built.

  Last fiscal year (July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2008) Friends gave more than $50 thousand to the library system. The money was raised by donations, membership dues, and Library Store profits. The library store was the second largest contributor, raising more than $40 thousand by selling used books.

  I am one of the store’s volunteers, selling books every other Tuesday afternoon. It’s an enjoyable experience that doesn’t require me to think very much – well, once I finally learned how to operate the cash register.  It’s enjoyable because I get to meet a lot of book lovers of all types of friendly people. Maybe they are friendly because they like being in a book store, especially one that offers some almost new best sellers that can be bought for five dollars or less. A lot of the books are a dollar, and paperbacks go for half-a-dollar.  People also buy a lot of DVD’s and CD’s for fire sale prices.

  This tradition of support is a direct result of the work of Doris Halouska, who, as a president of the Columbus League of Women Voters, did a study back in 1988 and learned that Columbus was the only city of comparable size in Georgia that did not have a Friends group. She started lobbying to correct that situation, eventually making the case before the Library Board and the Muscogee County School Board. She said it was an easy sale, that Superintendent Braxton Nail signed on to the idea, but it did take a while for Freinds to become a reality, 1995, to be exact.

Doris Halouska, Friends Annual Meeting, Columbus Public Library

Doris Halouska, Friends Annual Meeting, Columbus Public Library

  Since then Freinds has been a motivating force in getting branch libraries built, switching from the old card catalogue system to computerization, and getting the beautiful new library built on Macon Road.  Our libraries are bright, warm, user-friendly places now, and they are definitely being used. Since Friends went into action the number of people using the libraries and checking out materials has increase exponentially.

  Just think of the wealth of information that libraries provide. The shelves are stacked with ideas that are available for free to anyone who seeks knowledge. But, it is more than that. It is a gathering place for lovers of literature, music and drama. You can even go see free movies at the Columbus Library.  

  A city’s public library is a barometer of a communty’s intellectual values, and its commitment to offering a decent lifestyle and opportunity for learning to all of its citizens. Columbus can be thankful for all who support it, including Friends.

  Full disclosure: I am now a member of the Friends of Libraries Board of Directors, elected last night, so I could be biased in my reporting on the subject. But, frankly I was biased toward supporting the library long before I ever joined Friends.

  By the way, I would like to encourage you to join. We have 229 members now and we can use a lot more. It’s quite reasonable, only $10 bucks a year. Come to the Library Book Store and pick up a membership form. We’d love to have you. And, if the buy something while you are there. well, that would be good, too.