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Friends of the MH Library help fund public programs

Dedicated group will have “Big Book Sale” Feb. 15

Published in the Feb. 5, 2014 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek

Web-Friends-of-Library

Photo by Marty Cheek
Judy Little, left, a Friends of the Library volunteer, and Belinda Phillips, circulation supervisor, in the bookstore at the Morgan Hill Library.

Three times a year in the Morgan Hill Library’s program room, swarms of local residents buzz around the tables of books, CDs, and DVDs at the Big Book Sale where items cost $1 or less. The popular event is put on by the Friends of the Morgan Hill Library, a nonprofit group of about 70 volunteers who support the needs of our local community library.

The next Big Book Sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 15. This sale promises to have hundreds of children’s books released by the county library system that will sell for 10 cents each. After 2 p.m., book lovers have the last hour to fill a paper supermarket sack and take all the items in it home for a steal of a deal $4.

The group only conducts big sales about three times a year because of the work involved in organizing it, said Teresa Stephenson, president of the Friends.

“Since we can’t possibly hold all of the donated books in the bookstore, we fill the library program room with books and offer them for sale, many at reduced prices,” she said. “We’ll have paperbacks and hardcovers of all kinds, book sets and classics, just about any kind of book you can think of. We usually have people waiting in line for the doors to open and some bring rolling carts to hold all their treasures. ”

Members of the Friends can come in an hour before the sale (at 9 a.m.) to get first choice of the selection, she said. Membership costs start at $10 a year for an individual.

Money raised through the efforts of the Friends lets the library provide extra programs and books for the community’s enrichment, Stephenson said. “We provide funds for things that the county budget can’t stretch to provide,” she said. “We have paid for fixtures and furniture to enhance community access in the library.”

About 40 Friends volunteers sort through books donated to the group by people clearing out their collection and sell them not only at the Big Book Sale but also every day the library is open in the small bookstore in the lobby.

The Friends also operate a store front on Amazon.com, selling rare or special books to collectors across the nation. All this work is done gladly to raise money to support our library, Stephenson said.

Several years ago the Friends ran its successful Beyond Books Campaign to raise funds to provide artwork in the library such as mobiles, sculptures and murals, she said.

“All this helps make the library a place that people like to go to,” Stephenson said. “It’s really more than just a building full of books. It is a vital part of the community.”

The Morgan Hill Library would not be able to serve the public as well as it does without the Friends, said Peggy Tomasso, community librarian. There would be fewer programs like Zumba, the Culinary Dude, magic shows, and science or craft programs without their support.

“I cannot think of a group of more dedicated and selfless people,” she said. “Every year they donate funds to give a free book to every child and teen in the Morgan Hill community who signs up for the summer reading program — and that is not the half of it. The Friends fund  many of the programs that the library offers for children, teens, and adults throughout the year. The donation of their time and talent is what makes the Morgan Hill Library the vibrant place that is today. I can’t envision a future without them.”

The dedicated volunteers have a passion for the library and want to make sure the community sustains it for the benefit of all its users, Stephenson said.

“People who love books and libraries belong to the Friends,” she said. “We all believe that libraries provide education and enrichment and are eager to have both available to anyone who wants them. I believe that the free public library system is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society and is part of what make this such a great country. And the Friends want Morgan Hill to have the best possible library that we can have.”

For more information about the Friends of the Morgan Hill Library, visit the website www.friendsmhlibrary.org.