Library Columns Mary Beth Isaacson

Library Lovers Unite: Join the Friends of the Library! by Mary Beth Isaacson

Mary Beth IsaacsonHere in Highlands County, we consider all of our library patrons to be friends. Your libraries strive to provide an engaging and enriching experience for all members of our community. We couldn’t achieve this goal without the support of our Friends of the Library groups. The Friends of the Library unite enthusiastic library supporters, who believe in the mission of the library as cornerstone of the community. The funds they raise provide library materials and allow us to put on special events throughout the year. Each of Highlands County’s three libraries—Avon Park, Lake Placid, and Sebring—has its own Friends of the Library group. Today, I’ll share with you some of the ways in which the Friends help our community engage in the joy of lifelong learning.

The Friends of the Avon Park Library was established in 1972. Check out their Bookstore the next time you visit the AP Library—they have their own entrance on the right side of the building. The Friends played a crucial role in remodeling the library building back in 2005, and they also donated all 18 public computers. They regularly donate books, DVDs, CDs, and other library materials, and sponsor all of the library’s programs. From Summer Reading events to the Saturday Movies, the Friends have a hand in all of it. One of our favorite new classes is Coloring and Coffee, an adult coloring program, which will next take place on Thursday, February 25th at 2:00 pm. The Friends provide refreshments and all of the supplies.

Avon PArk Library FriendsAvon Park’s Friends are holding a special Book Sale today, February 17th, all day in the library meeting room. Next month, the Friends of the Avon Park Library and the Avon Park Founders Garden Club are presenting “Orange You Sweet!”, a nonjudged flower show honoring Highlands County’s citrus industry. The festivities start on Friday, March 11th, when Mayor Sharon Schuler will open the show at 1:00 pm. Special guests David Austin and Jeff Williams will speak on citrus agriculture, and the show will be open through Saturday afternoon. If you’d like to submit an exhibit, visit the Library for more information or call 863 452-3803.

The Sebring Friends of the Library also have their own Bookstore, located at 117 E. Center Avenue in downtown Sebring. The Sebring Friends contributed to the 2011 library renovations, when the fabulous children’s room was created. Know any kids? The Sebring Public Library has regular storytimes and enrichment programs, such as STEAM Stars and Crazy 8s Math Club, fun activities that help kids improve their science and math skills. The Sebring Friends sponsor these events plus the Summer Reading Program. Last year’s grand finale was Didgeridoo Down Under, where kids learned about Australia and had a terrific time playing the didgeridoo, a traditional Australian musical instrument. I can’t wait to see what they have planned for summer 2016!

Later this month, the Sebring Friends will present a free concert by Chris Kahl, a Florida musician who has performed throughout the state and in Europe. One of Kahl’s albums, Orange Blossom Memories, is a nostalgic ode to our state, and features the song “Floridiana Hotel,” which was honored as one of the Top New Florida Songs of 2006. He is Artist in Residence with Brevard County Schools, teaching Florida history and songwriting to elementary school students when he’s not sharing his love of Florida with audiences statewide. The concert will be held at the Sebring Public Library on Monday, February 29th at 2:00 PM. Doors open at 1:30 pm and seating will be available until they reach capacity. This is sure to be a great show, so don’t miss it!

Visitors to the Lake Placid Memorial Library are fond of visiting the little book sale area next to the circulation desk, where the Friends sell books and other materials. After all these years, the Lake Placid Friends are getting their own Bookstore! The new store will be located in the library building. The shelves have been installed and they’re in the process of organizing and sorting the books, magazines, and other materials that will be for sale. You can call them at 863 699-3713 for more information. The Friends have not yet announced the date of the grand opening, but I am told it will be very soon, so stay tuned.

Lake Placid’s Friends provide many resources for their library, from books and audiobooks to the shelves on which library materials are stored. They also donated several of the library’s computers, sponsor the children’s Summer Reading Program, and other adult and children’s events. Last year’s special summer guest was JiggleMan, an entertainer who has performed on The Late Show with David Letterman; kids had a ball (literally and figuratively) at this interactive comedy show. Lake Placid always has interesting summer programs, and this year’s featured guest is going to be really cool!

As you can see, your Highlands County Friends of the Libraries groups are critical to fulfilling your libraries’ mission of providing quality materials and services to enrich our citizens’ lives. All three Friends groups accept donations of books, movies, and other materials, and all proceeds from book sales go right back into the library. The Friends’ gift of their time and commitment to the library sets an example for us all in how volunteerism leads to positive civic engagement and the betterment of our community. We love our Friends of the Library, and we thank them for all they do to enrich our libraries and our community.