I arrived in Hart County in 1998 to take on the job of Library Director. At that time, there was a Friends of the Library group, but it was mostly moribund, its members disillusioned after dealing with the previous library administration. A few years later, a few women, recent arrivals to the community, decided that the library was something that needed help (which it certainly did), and that they could do a lot to provide that help.
Since that day, more than fifteen years ago, we’ve come to depend on the Friends of the Hart County Library, and they haven’t let us down.
One of their early ideas was to start a bookstore in the basement of the library to organize and find homes for the better items from the immense array of books and other materials that are donated to the library every week. From one room in the library basement, the bookstore has since grown to three well-organized rooms, manned by volunteers from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, four days a week.
Their fundraising efforts expanded to include an annual wine & cheese event, usually with silent auction items and other donation opportunities.
The money that results from the bookstore and from the wine & cheese fundraiser goes a long way toward supporting the library’s materials collections. The Friends of the Hart County Library give us a monthly grant of $400.00 for New York Times bestsellers, along with $63.00 per month for children and YA books. (We have additional grants for children’s materials, so the Friends concentrate their efforts on books for adult readers.) For a small Friends group and a small library, this is a very big help.
Each year, the Friends contribute hundreds of dollars toward the Summer Reading Program (SRP), helping us to pay for performers/entertainers to come to the library, for a public performance license so we can show movies, as well as for Summer Reading Program prizes for the kids, and – for the last few years – SRP-themed t-shirts for the library staff. We also regularly provide the Friends with a “wish list” of items we’ll need in the upcoming months for programs or materials – and they almost never say “no”. Just in the past few days, two members of the Friends have brought in bags of craft supplies – paid for with their own money – for our Children’s Librarian to use for her weekly storytimes and our second annual Pirate Camp program.
We’ve had several evening and weekend book-signing events in recent years, showcasing local authors. The Friends usually provide the beverages and snacks for these evenings – and not just buying jugs of sweet tea and boxes of cookies, but actually making cookies and appetizers for the attendees. They also have provided this service for other programs, such as our annual “Passport to Adventure” evening that celebrates National Library Week.
This past year, the Friends even helped with our Halloween fundraiser, the Edgar Allan Poe-themed “Tell-Tale Hart” gala, organized by the library staff. We had to relocate the event to a more expensive venue this past year, and the Friends paid the rental fee, allowing us to realize more of a profit from the evening.
Speaking of acknowledging the efforts of the staff, this year the Friends gave gift cards to each member of the staff for Valentine’s Day, and each year, they bring a catered lunch to the library for the staff, to acknowledge National Library Worker Day. Not to mention that testimonial letters from some our Friends helped Hart County Library earn its recognition as Georgia Public Library of the Year for 2016. It’s a great working relationship between the staff and the Friends – we very definitely appreciate one another.
Director – Hart County Library
Friends of the Hart County Library won the “Fabulous Friends” Award for 2018, receiving their award in April at FOGL’s Annual Spring Business Meeting & Workshop.