When a group of community members come together to volunteer, they often become friends along the way, too.
This holds true for the Friends of the Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library (Friends). Friends is a nonprofit group who actively advocate for the local library in numerous ways including many fundraisers. They work diligently to help with “bridging the gap” between the community and library.
Because of the tireless hours and dedication to help service the local library, which ultimately benefits the citizens of the community, Friends was selected for April’s Hometown Hero of Glasgow-Barren.
Several of the Friends’ officers met with the Barren County Progress and sprinkled within their chatter were those of laughter, smiles, and warmth, a true representation of kindness and friendship.
Friends is actually comprised of over one hundred members; however, the officers met to talk about the organization and reflect on their volunteer work and why it’s an important part of their lives.
In 2010, Friends officially became a nonprofit organization despite already volunteering similarly before that.
Friends is able to operate solely through the memberships and donations from community members. With those funds, they are able to buy supplies for fundraisers and pay for a storage unit to house the books awaiting the book sales events as well as support local teachers in various ways including back-to-school specials.
Monies raised through the fundraisers provide money for various educational and fun activities and programs outside of the library’s budget. The annual Chocolate Around the World event was last month where attendees can pay a couple of dollars to taste samples of chocolate from six different nations and then vote on their favorite.
Friends’ Treasurer Sandy Welborn said, “We usually make a donation at the end of the fiscal year. Sometimes we just give the library a set amount of what we’ve earned through the year and other times funds are earmarked for certain things such as the recent projector purchase.”
Barbara Brand, President of Friends MWW, shared the organization’s objectives: promote welfare and growth of the library; promote library resources; to make resources more accessible; and to provide financial support; and provide volunteer services.
Friends’ organizations are groups who independently operate separate from the libraries they serve and they are also organized at the state and national levels.
Krista Jones, Vice President of Friends, said since going ‘fine free,’ meaning no more late fees, a lot of revenue was lost for the library and Friends helps to pick up that slack.
To become a member of the volunteer organization, it’s only $5 per person or $10 per family. The perks of being a member is that any volunteer work time is flexible and, perhaps most importantly for those who are avid readers, members have dibs to check out the book sales before the general public.
Book sales are one of the largest components in Friends’ fundraising efforts. The Spring book sale is slated for April 27 through May 1 at the library, which is located at 1530 S Green Street in Glasgow.
Sharyon Shartzer, secretary of Friends, said from a personal perspective, she knew that once she retired, she wanted to volunteer somewhere.
“I love to read,” she said, “It’s always been my passion so when I joined Friends, a side benefit was getting to know people in the community I didn’t know.”
Shartzer shared that she has built lifelong friends by volunteering with Friends and the others agreed the same holds true for them as well.
Joan Norris, who serves on the Board of Directors of the library, said the library has so many services available to the community yet it remains an underused service. She also commended the members of Friends MWW who work hard to promote the programs.
Norris also said the Friends members used innovative ways to continue reaching out to the community in unique ways when the pandemic restrictions were implemented.
Beth Vandyke shared she stumbled upon the organization after she began utilizing the local library while homeschooling her daughter.
Some of the challenges Friends MWW currently face is that a lot of the members work and Brand said that leaves mostly the retired members available, which is more difficult when it comes to lifting heavy boxes of books.
“However, we have received assistance from Glasgow Parks and Recreation staff and the Barren County Detention Center,” Brand said, “We have had students and staff from the Barren County and Glasgow Schools assist us as well.”
”We are very grateful for their support!” she expressed.
The local library is a wonderful asset to the Glasgow-Barren community and books aren’t the only thing available to the patrons. Laptops can be checked out, a full computer lab is available downstairs, new multimedia equipment, bookmobile service to those who can’t come in, free digital e-books and other online content, quiet rooms can be used for things such as tutoring, and much more.
“We count on our volunteers to help out our book sales and other events,” Brand said, “We just had a small DVD sale with only three volunteers, but our big sales in spring and fall bring out 20-25 members in addition to community members.”
Books are usually priced at $1 or less for those readers or parents with children looking to save money and promote literacy for their children.
The leftover books from the sales, Jones said, are donated to different places such as the BC Read and Feed program and area nursing homes.
Brand said, “We are always looking for new members and volunteers. Interested community members may get more information and join anytime at the Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library.” There is no cost to obtain a library card to access a wealth of information and programs offered at the library.
Friends of MWW officers are as follows: President Barbara Brand; Vice President Krista Jones; Secretary Sharyon Shartzer; Membership Secretary Beth Vandyke; and Treasurer Sandy Welborn.
Sometimes the smallest moments in life such as sorting books while volunteering to provide the community with an abundance of accessible and free opportunities bring new friendships, too. And that is an irreplaceable gift.
or the steadfast and reliable support of Friends of the Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library, the Barren County Progress is honored to recognize this wonderful group as this month’s Hometown Hero.