Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
The debut of J. K. Rawlings’ 6th Harry Potter book added to the excitement of our very successful summer reading program and fit well into this year’s theme, Dragons, Dreams & Daring Deeds, which was used in 32 states across the U.S.A. Shaker Library was ready for the long anticipated release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with 50 of its own copies and 120 more copies through CLEVNET’s new floating collection, which allowed us to fill all reserve requests immediately and to have first-come, first-served copies available ever since. While the Harry Potter book had a positive influence on our service to children this summer, there is no doubt that the greatest impact came from Friends of the Shaker Library, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
One significant gift Friends of the Shaker Library gives the Library is their annual funding of the summer reading program. The Friends’ generosity enables Library staff to create decorations centered on the theme and to purchase attractive prizes. This year’s levels of participation were higher than in previous years in large part because of Friends-funded preparations that attracted children to the program and kept them returning to the Library throughout the summer.
A huge purple dragon that served as a “float” in the Memorial Day Parade was only one of dozens of banners, flying dragons, castles, coats of arms, and more that provided a medieval atmosphere and helped to draw visitors’ attention. The program was well received by the children themselves resulting in their reporting more hours of reading, and Friends-funded prizes certainly sparked their interest. When children reported reading for 10 hours, they received a gel bracelet, imprinted with the word “read” in different languages, and when they read for 75 hours, they became “King” or “Queen” for a moment and had their picture taken—complete with crown and scepter—on our royal reading throne!
The Friends’ Annual Ice Cream Social and Mini Used Book Sale held in June at Bertram Woods Branch lends a festive air to the beginning of the program and has come to be an anticipated family event signaling the start of a summer filled with reading. Summer Specials were weekly programs that featured guest speakers and the Friends funded these, too.
One way the Friends group makes money for the library is through semi annual used book sales. The first sale was held in 1980, after the Friends of the Shaker Library organized. (Former Shaker Library employee and Kent State University library school student, Phyllis Harper, did an independent study of volunteer organizations associated with public libraries and recommended that Shaker Library form one. Barbara Luton, then Director of the Library, approved the idea and Friends of the Shaker Library (FOSL) was established and incorporated as a nonprofit, volunteer organization to provide beyond the basics in the Library’s budget.
At its first book sale in 1980, the Friends earned over $900. Twenty-five years later in April 2005, the Friends grossed over $10,000. The annual receipts from semi-annual and never-ending book sales now exceeds $24,000 thanks to the dedicated volunteers who sort donated materials and tackle the gargantuan task of running these events. With the money raised, the Friends group has sponsored author visits for children, teens, and adults. Friends’ funds have also been used to purchase the library’s mascot, Bee A. Reader; to buy the library’s delivery van for transporting materials between agencies; and to provide an initial $10,000 donation as seed money for the Library’s Endowment Fund.
Another way the Friends organization makes money is through annual memberships, ranging from $15 - $100, and through the sale of canvas bags, mugs, key chains, posters and a community cookbook available at the Circulation Desks at both libraries.
With support from the Friends, we have been ale to schedule a variety of free author visits and literary events for the community this summer. We hosted Sarah Willis, author of Some Things That Stay, The Rehearsal, A Good Distance, and The Sound of Us; J. Everett Prewitt, author of Snake Walkers; and Karen Long, Book Editor for The Cleveland Plain Dealer in the Woods Reading Garden, and at the Main Library, Janis F. Kearney, Presidential Diarist for former President Bill Clinton spoke and signed copies of her book, Cotton Field of Dreams. We are planning an exciting local authors event in November and encourage more community-minded folks to join the Friends to help make more exciting author events possible.
We extend thanks to Sanford Cone for his solid, two-year leadership of the Friends and we look forward to working with incoming president Nikki Evans. We owe a great deal of thanks to the Friends of the Shaker Library and we congratulate them on a quarter century of increasingly productive volunteer work on behalf of the Shaker Heights Public Library. If you are not a member of the Friends, we encourage you to join now.
And to all our Friends we say, “Happy Anniversary!”
Luren E. Dickinson, Director