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"Friends" make a big difference at the Wolfeboro Public Library

WOLFEBORO PUBLIC LIBRARY DIRECTOR Cynthia Scott (left) and Inger Woerheide, President of the Friends of the Wolfeboro Public Library, have a close working relationship. (Heather Terragni photo) (click for larger version)
July 15, 2010
WOLFEBORO — As people turn to their local libraries more and more frequently during a depressed economy, it's natural that libraries are expected to provide more and more services as well as keep up with the common demands of an increased population.

As is the case at the Wolfeboro Public Library, membership is up and more patrons (residents and non-residents alike), who may have dropped their newspaper or magazine subscriptions as a means of saving, are using the library's resources on a daily basis.

With this increased demand on its equipment and materials the Wolfeboro Public Library is lucky to have a large group of "Friends" who help support its cause by raising funds, which go directly towards library improvements, materials and programs.

This group, Friends of the Wolfeboro Public Library, consists of 100-plus members and an 11-person board who volunteer year-round to help fill a budgetary void that, without them, would leave the library in need of so many fundamentals.

"They are absolutely critical to our success," explained Library Director Cynthia Scott. "The Friends save us a huge amount of money because they pay for all kinds of things… It's a close relationship and it really helps the library have some extras and also deal with some basics."

"The Friends main purpose," shared the Friends' board President Inger Woerheide, "is simply to raise money to fill in for Cindy Scott where her budget doesn't expand to cover a lot of things that she would like to have in the Library. We vote to give her the money to purchase the items that she comes to us for."

Supported in part by three annual fundraisers and member donations, the Friends of the Wolfeboro Public Library have provided the library with a plethora of programs, materials, and equipment over the years. From new furniture to computers, bookends to audio books, shelving to lighting, and library materials to processing supplies, the list of provisions is endless.

Most recently the Friends have sprung for a children's DVD cart, lightweight folding tables for the meeting room, a children's puppet theatre, and a new sign for the front of the library which replaced the one they purchased several years ago.

In addition, the Friends sponsor the annual summer reading program for children as well as cover the cost for speakers from the N.H. Arts Council and provide volunteers for special projects (such as the survey of usage conducted several times per year). They help with library publicity, help cover Public Performance Rights fees (so that the library can show movies), and provide local museum passes for use by library card owners.

"I don't know that we could afford to do that otherwise," shared Scott when asked about the family passes. By presenting their library card to a library staff member a patron may check out one of several local museum passes which grant them admission to the museum for a reduced rate or in some instances, for free. A perk for those seeking local, inexpensive places to visit, many don't know to take advantage of this amazing service. Some of the museums listed on the Friends' Web page include, The Antique Boat Museum, the Wright Museum, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, and the N.H. Farm Museum.

In order to be able to provide all this, shared Woerheide, a member of the board since 2005, the Friends hold three annual fundraisers; the book sale, book and author luncheon, and raffle.

The largest of the fundraisers is the June book sale, which coincides with the Library Trustees' Ice Cream Social on its opening day. Because they have so many books donated, both by individuals and the library, and no place to store them, the Friends anticipate holding a second annual book sale beginning in November 2011. They also have an ongoing book sale year round inside the library where an entire back section of shelves have been devoted to books for sale by the Friends. These sales, Woerheide said, have continually generated enough money to pay for the server and wireless Internet "that helps make this library a hotspot."

The second major fundraiser, the Book and Author Luncheon, hosts three different authors every year. During this event Karen Baker of The Country Bookseller provides copies of the author's latest books, which are signed at the luncheon and sold. Baker provides the Friends a percent of the book sales sold during the event, an act of "extreme generosity" in the eyes of Woerheide. Gift baskets, donated by individuals, the Friends of the Wolfeboro Public Library Board, and the Library Trustees, are also raffled off. For several years now Rita Weiss of Details also has provided beautiful centerpieces for the event.

Both this past book sale, held June 4 in the library's meeting room, and the Book and Author Luncheon, held at Bald Peak Colony Club in Moultonborough also in June, were very successful as in years past.

A third fundraiser, begun by the Library Trustees and co-chaired by the Friends, is the annual raffle. This year's raffle tickets and information are set to be mailed soon.

Woerheide would like to remind all that enrollment for the Friends of the Wolfeboro Public Library runs from June 1 through May 31, but anyone interested can join the Friends at any time. Becoming a member of this group is easy and costs only $5 per year. Membership forms can be picked up and dropped off at the library's circulation desk or downloaded from the Web site, http://www.wolfeboronh.us/pages/WolfeboroNH_Library/friends, and mailed to the library at 259 South Main St.

"The supporters we have are quite loyal and very generous," she said of those who send along additional money and/or volunteer their time to the board.

"We would certainly like to increase the membership… I'm lucky to work with a wonderful board." Woerheide stressed that the Friends are not an exclusive group and that anyone interested in joining would be welcome. She shared her hopes of adding another board member or two to the mix, one specifically to deal with the utilization and organization of volunteers.

Members are also sent a newsletter four times a year, something Woerheide believes is very important. The newsletter keeps members up to date on new book purchases, programs, library staff reading, and includes a membership renewal form, information about the annual meeting and the book and author luncheon.

"I think a library is one of the greatest gifts that Americans have been given… a public library is non-discriminating and affords everybody the opportunity to have access to books. This library offers many of the same services as a lot of larger libraries; they will help you with your computers, order books for you…" said Woerheide when asked why being a Friend is important to her. Passionate about her position as president, she couldn't help but educate her listener about the history of libraries – Ben Franklin began the first library in America you know – and the opportunities libraries continue to offer today.

In addition to Woerheide the current Friends of the Wolfeboro Public Library board includes Deb Denby (recording secretary), Gail Johnson (treasurer), Judy O'Keefe (corresponding secretary), Susan Dean-Olson (vice president), Ellen Berry (past president/ newsletter), Carole Hunt (newsletter), Harry Widman (by-laws), Sarah Day (publicity), Andrea Dudley (membership) and Patty Nordenchild (book sales). Jane Newcomb, a library trustee acts as the liaison between the two groups and Library Director Scott also sits as a non-voting member of the board.

The board currently meets about five times per year throughout the fall and winter months.

Look for information on the upcoming annual raffle, book sale to be held in November, and a schedule of speakers from the N.H. Arts Council beginning this fall.

Also important to the Friends, a public forum on the library expansion project will be held Wednesday, July 28 at 7 p.m. at the Wolfeboro Public Library during which a presentation will be given by architects Johnson Roberts of conceptual plans for future library building/ renovations.

Heather Terragni can be reached at 569-3126 or hterragni@salmonpress.com

Martin Lord Osman
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