Newly formed Friends of the Library exceeds initial goal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Almost everyone enjoys the chance to make new friends. The Bladen County Library System is no different, and the resurrection of the Friends of the Library may bring some to them. After a few formative meetings, the small group is establishing its purpose and working with the library staff to make improvements.

FOTL co-chair Tammie Herring said her husband asked her why she joined.

“I really want to be a part of something good in this community and make some new friendships. I also want to be a better role model for my kids and show them the potential of trying something new!” Herring responded.

Sheila Nance, who took over as the library director about six months ago, is extremely pleased and excited about the support the Friends are providing.

“We are absolutely thrilled by the interest and participation from our loyal patrons in reviving the Friends group,” Nance said. “It is wonderful to have this group come together with the goal of supporting and advocating for our library,” she gushed.

“Our library touches so many lives as it is, and there is no telling how much more we can do with the added support of our motivated, active Friends,” she added.

The Friends meet the third Monday each month at 1:30 pm at the Elizabethtown library, 111 N Cypress St., Elizabethtown. It precedes the monthly book club meeting that starts at 3 pm

“We thought this would give people a chance to ‘make a day of it’ at the library,’” said Terry Briggs, secretary for the Friends. “But there will be lots of ways people who can’t attend the meetings can help out, like helping shelve books and doing other things that will allow the library staff time to do even more than they are already doing.”

Annual dues are $10 with these funds initially going for things needed to promote FOTL’s purpose, goals and opportunities. FOTL is also applied for grants. The Friends is a separate entity from the library system and has started to apply for its non-profit status, which will cost at least $750. There was also a charge to rent a post office box and money needed for incidental startup supplies.

The group has been discussing ideas for community events, presentations, how-to sessions, and fund-raisers. A couple of book sales and membership drives will also help the group achieve financial goals, with everything raised going to the library to help meet the needs not funded through the regular budget.

The first fund-raiser was a raffle for a Valentine’s Day basket. Local merchants and businesses who contributed included Barefoot Brew Sandwich Shoppe, Barefoot Brew Coffee Shoppe, Joseph D Salon, Que-T-Butts Smokehouse and Grill, San Jose’ Mexican Restaurant, Sassy Chick Boutique, Simple Treasures Liquidation Store and Touch of Beauty Salon. The grand prize was a stay in a deluxe cabin at Lu Mil Vineyard.

Patty Johnson was the winner of basketball. She had also contributed a gift certificate to her store de ella, Simple Treasures, and a noodle board that will be used for a future fund-raiser.

She said she was very surprised and thrilled to win the basket. The products and gift certificates were so nice, but she didn’t even notice the grand prize at first.

“I didn’t even realize it had the stay at the cabin. My daughter had to show that to me,” Johnson remarked. She said she has not stayed at LuMil before, and she looks forward to enjoying that visit.

Johnson was also very happy she was able to contribute to the items included.

“I was more than willing to help. I think the library is really important, especially for the kids,” she said.

Herring is keeping to her word about getting her children involved in supporting the library. Ella’s daughter, Shelby, 12, is a sixth-grader at Emereau Bladen Charter School. Shelby went with her mom to distribute flyers promoting the Valentine’s Day basket, and she pulled the winning raffle ticket.

“I think it’s cool that she’s going out and trying new stuff,” said Shelby regarding her mom’s involvement in FOTL. She also said it was “cool” to help distribute and post the flyers and choose the winner.

“I liked that I got to hang out with my mom and go places.”

Robin Johnson (not related to Patty Johnson), was elected as the FOTL treasurer. She was amazed and impressed with how generous everyone was, and she is enjoying having the chance to become more active in the community.

“I couldn’t believe how quick people were to contribute and how generous they were,” she said, adding that everyone she approached donated.

Ticket sales reached more than $600, which was a pleasant surprise and exceeded expectations. Johnson was instrumental is collecting the first raffle’s donations for the Valentine’s basket.

“No one said no about donating,” she said. “The support of the community for the library is amazing,” Johnson said. Like Herring and Briggs, she is very happy to be involved with the revamp of the group and excited about what they will be able to contribute and accomplish.

Kim Wilson, library assistant, recently transferred to the Elizabethtown library from the Southwest Brunswick County system. There was a very active FOTL program there, she said.

Wilson said the FOTL in Southwest Brunswick County became more like family, and the library system relied on them and were so grateful for all they did. They helped make the library a success and allowed it to better serve the community.

“I know we have the same here, and I am so excited to see our new group getting started and look forward to all we will be able to accomplish for our library together,” she said.

The public is invited to attend the next FOTL meeting on Monday, March 21, at 1:30 pm at the main branch in Elizabethtown.

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