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Friends help library succeed

Friends of the Library marks 20th anniversary

Jun 26, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

A celebration of the milestone will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Riverton branch, 1330 W. Park Ave.

The mezzanine level of the Riverton Branch Library often is abuzz with volunteers dusting off shelves of books, organizing book adoptions and making sure the library has enough funding for activities.

Although their work often goes unnoticed, their purpose is simple: to help the library succeed.

The Riverton Friends of the Library organization turns 20 this year, and the anniversary will be celebrated with an open house -- with cake, punch and coffee -- from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, in the library at 1330 W. Park Ave. in Riverton.

"We hope the community will come out and celebrate this wonderful milestone with us," said Peggy Want, president of Friends of the Library.

The group was founded June 27, 1992, after concerns circulated that a lack of funding might force the Riverton Branch Library to close.

Friends of the Library founding member Marlys Bias said when people thought the library was going to close they responded to ensure the doors would remain open.

"I got involved because at the time I was afraid our town was going to lose the library," Bias said. "The first meeting we ever held had, around 100 people in attendance to discuss different ways to help the library remain open."

The group has about 12 members plus volunteers who help provide funding for the library. Friends of the Riverton Library members cooperate with the library board, librarians and staff by dedicating themselves to maintaining services that help the library.

They meet the last Wednesday of every month to discuss ways to support year-round programs and help purchase shelving, chairs, refreshments for events, and books for reading clubs.

"I guess you could say the Riverton Friends of the Library picks up the slack financially when the library feels it can't afford something," Bias said.

The Riverton Friends of the Library organizes a book adoption where books that have been donated can be purchased by the public. The sale is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month.

When the book adoption first started, Bias said, the sale took place just once a year in the community room of the library.

"We used to have to lug boxes and boxes of books downstairs, which is probably why we only had it once a year," Bias said. "We made as much money in one day as we do now in one year."

After three years of having the book adoption in the community room, the Riverton Friends of the Library were given the upstairs portion of the library, where they have been ever since.

Friends of the Library secretary Kathy Rein said the group is always looking for volunteers.

"Our membership is getting quite elderly, and we would like to see more young people become interested in this organization," Rein said.

Bias said each volunteer works a two-hour shift.

"We sometimes struggle to find enough people to cover the two-hour shifts every month," Bias said.

Want said the Friends often are the voice of the community.

"We try to listen to what people say, and then come back and discuss everything at the board meetings," Want said. "The library is a place that brings people together. We want people to continue coming to this facility, and we are always striving to make it the best we possibly can," Want said.

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