Friends promoting Buy a Chair Campaign for library

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 3, 2015

 New chairs like this one are being purchased through a Friends of the Library campaign for the Gilstorf meeting room of the St. Clair Shores Public Library.

New chairs like this one are being purchased through a Friends of the Library campaign for the Gilstorf meeting room of the St. Clair Shores Public Library.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


ST. CLAIR SHORES — Known for their contributions to the library’s collection of works, programs and more, the Friends of the Library are taking a stand against budget constraints.

Or a seat.

“The library is very important to the community, but it’s under municipal budget stress, so the Friends decided to assist the library in a way beyond our traditional areas of support by funding the purchase of these new chairs,” said Friends of the Library President Bob Doetsch.

But the condition of the chairs in the Gilstorf room of the library, used for meetings, movies and more, has been deteriorating.

And while buying chairs is a capital expense usually paid for by the city, with St. Clair Shores’ current budget condition, it isn’t something that’s necessarily possible. The Friends, on the other hand, were able to front the expense of the chairs and then involve the community in the project.

This is the library’s 80th year, Doetsch said, so it seemed fitting to take on such a project for the anniversary.

“It’s a significant purchase for us and a heavily used room, so it’s great to have new chairs in there,” he said. “They’ve already started arriving.”

Friends of the Library Treasurer Ann Powell said they are midway through the Buy a Chair Campaign — it runs until April 15 — and have raised half of the money needed to purchase 100 chairs for the Gilstorf meeting room.

The chairs were purchased by the Friends 20 years ago, but the group noticed that they had become stained, shredded and otherwise fallen into disrepair. The cost to purchase 100 plastic chairs, plus a dolly for stacking them, is $8,000.

The Friends are accepting donations at four levels — $10 is a bronze level, $15 for silver, $25 for gold and $100 for platinum. At the end of the campaign, one person from each level will be chosen to receive a lifetime membership in the Friends of the Library. All participants will have their names listed in a memorial book that will be kept at the library.

“It’s really exciting. It’s going along really well,” Powell said. “We’ve had a number of people that have contributed $100, which is wonderful.”

There are two phases to the project, Powell said. The second phase is to replace upholstered armchairs in the MacHarg room, a smaller meeting room in the library. Those 14 chairs cost $450 each, and sponsors have been found for almost all of the seats.

The Friends of the St. Clair Shores Public Library budgeted $24,476 for library programs for the fiscal year of April 2013-March 2014. The Friends raised revenue of $24,359 from used book sales, memberships, gift shop sales and other sources during that time period. Expenditures are planned to be more this fiscal year because of the purchase of the chairs, but the Buy a Chair campaign will help the group recoup some of that $13,000 outlay.

“We have a budget that we set up each year,” Powell said. “The reason we’re able to buy the chairs is because, along the way, we had money in reserve.”

More information about the Buy a Chair campaign is available at For those wishing to contribute a tax-deductible donation, a check or money order can be sent to the Buy a Chair Program, Friends of the St. Clair Shores Library, 22500 11 Mile Road, St. Clair Shores, MI 48081-1399. Call (586) 771-9020 for more information.