St. Clair ShoresJuly 31, 2013
Library group celebrates 30 years of help with books, programs and more
By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer
ST. CLAIR SHORES — Three decades ago, two dozen St. Clair Shores residents saw a need in one of the city’s institutions.
Those 24 charter members helped bring together a group of 70 to form the Friends of the St. Clair Shores Public Library Jan. 18, 1983, and have been working ever since on book sales and in the gift shop to fill the gaps in a continually shrinking budget for the St. Clair Shores Public Library.
And this year, the group is celebrating 30 years together.
Bob Doetsch, president of the Friends of the Library for more than a year and a 13-year board member, said the group is proud to have reached this milestone.
“Reaching this anniversary, with all we’ve accomplished, is testament to all the dedicated people who have served on the Friends board over the past years,” he said. “We see our mission as supporting the operation of the library, sponsoring library programs, helping the library raise funds to meet special needs they have there.”
He said the members, and those who patronize the Friends of the Library Gift Shop and book sales, are the reason the group is able to give so much support to the library.
“The library is vital to the quality of life in St. Clair Shores,” he said. “In these challenging fiscal times, we’re glad to play a role.”
Library Director Rosemary Orlando said the Friends’ support is important to library operations.
“Over the last five years, they have always sponsored our Summer Reading Club, and that’s huge,” she said. “Right now, the library doesn’t have a programming budget, so any of the programs that are sponsored by the library are funded through the Friends.”
That includes children’s programming and speakers on different topics that come in throughout the year.
In its 30 years, the Friends of the Library has also purchased the entire stock of large-print books for the library, a self-checkout computer, the first VHS and DVD movies in the library’s collection, all periodicals the library subscribes to and database subscriptions that were cut from the budget.
“One of the nicest things about the Friends is I can come to them in the middle of the year when we have a special project or a cooperative-wide project (and) they’re always very receptive to help fund those projects,” Orlando said.
Those projects included the “I Geek the Library” campaign and this year’s lawn signs for Summer Reading Club members, which proclaim that “A Library Champion Lives Here.”
“They have helped us embrace technology, so there are things that we have to purchase on an ongoing basis,” Orlando said. “Five years ago, when the library and the city’s revenue decreased … they really stepped up.
“They’re very dedicated in helping us going above and beyond our budget.”
The Friends of the Library has also purchased a substantial amount of materials for the library’s audio book collection and pays for St. Clair Shores’ participation in Overdrive, the database of e-reader books available for checkout.
Orlando, one of the charter members of the Friends of the Library, said she sees 30 years as “a very big milestone.”
“They’re very aware of their past and they work very hard to protect their future,” she said. Orlando has been Library Director since 2005 and was the assistant library director for five years prior to that.
“There was a need for a group of residents to help support the library and to move it forward and to assist in funding things that the library might not be able to purchase,” she said. “Over the years, they have purchased all the chairs in the meeting room for the library. They helped with the furnishings in the reading lounge and the local history center.
“They really were a group of very dedicated citizens that loved the library.”
About 570 people are members and, to date, the group has donated $279,000 to the library, with $129,000 coming in the last five years.
Doetsch said the group will continue to help the library in any way it can for decades to come.
“Libraries are important to the quality of life (of residents, but) … they often take the brunt of municipal budget cuts,” he said. “This makes the role of the Friends … that much more important.”
With membership comes benefits like a free week on rental books, half off the $2 rental fee on movies and up to five $1 videos from the youth services department free. Members also get a bimonthly newsletter.
The group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and membership starts at $10 for an individual, with additional discounts for senior citizens. Membership details and an application can be found at the library or online at www.scslibrary.org by clicking on “Friends of the Library” under the Library Information tab.