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A library with true Friends
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The lead story in The PREVIEW on Thursday, Sept. 26, 1985, started with, “It’s always said that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. The Friends of the Library, an Archuleta County Library support group, has taken this old idea to create a new fund raiser to benefit the library.”

Twenty-four years later, the Friends of the Library is a much larger group, and the library they support is the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library.

The group’s major fund-raiser, the annual Book Sale, is one of Pagosa’s most popular events. This will take place Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18, at the Pagosa Springs Community Center. This Friday opening will include a potluck dinner as well as thousands of books “that will find the way to your heart through the mind as well as the stomach.”

On Friday evening, from 6 to 9 p.m., members, both new and old, will meet for a potluck dinner at the community center. Following the meal, there will be the (short!) annual meeting.

After this, a signal will be given, chairs will be pushed back, and the shopping frenzy will begin. Members have the privilege of getting first choice at browsing the tables and purchasing their favorite books on Friday evening before the sale opens to the public at 8 a.m. sharp Saturday morning. It is hard to find a group of people who can get out of their chairs and off their feet faster to search out the bargains.

Would you like to have first choice at all these books? Membership in the Friends of the Library is easy to obtain, and very reasonable. Annual membership for an individual is $15, and for a family, $25. A lifetime membership is $100. (Just think of the benefits that are enjoyed at a very small price over the years by those individuals who are already lifetime members) Checks or cash are accepted.

If you are not yet a Friends member or if your annual membership has expired, you can take care of membership on Friday evening. There will be people at tables who will be ready to help you. You can also join the Friends at any time by asking for a membership application at the checkout desk at the Sisson Library. For newcomers, the library is located at 811 San Juan St. The entrance is just around the corner from U.S. 160 on South 8th Street.

Proceeds from the sale, as always, will help fund special projects such as the Summer Reading Program, purchase equipment, and supplement the book and other media collections in the library. It is interesting to note that, in 1983, when the annual book sale was held, the Friends helped the library obtain such items as a card catalog, an electric calculator, an Apple IIE computer, two disk drives, a monitor and a printer. Two electric typewriters were also put into service. The specific needs certainly vary from year to year, and the Friends always step up to help meet these needs.

Archuleta County is fortunate to have a Library District in place, but the tax dollars the library receives cannot begin to keep pace with the growing needs, wishes and needs of library patrons.

Sale doors will be open to the public on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you are a gambler and want to take a chance that the special book(s) you want will still be available at 12:30 p.m., remaining books will be offered at half price for the last half hour of the sale. The prices, however, are rock bottom bargains to begin with, so you may not want to take that chance. With the exception of a few very special/rare books, the books, CDs, DVDs, videos and puzzles will be priced from 50 cents to $2. With these prices, it is easy to understand why many of the high-quality and highly-desirable books are snatched up and purchased on Friday evening. Cash or checks will be accepted at checkout.

Very few of these books are ones that have been discarded from the library shelves because they are old, falling apart or no longer of interest. Most of these materials come from donations made throughout the year. Every week, people make donations to the library. These donations are often books that have been read once and passed on, and sometimes large collections are donated when someone runs out of book space or leaves the area. Some of these donations are put into circulation. This is a way well-used books can be replaced with nice copies and new titles can be added to the collection. Those that are not used in this way will be at the sale next weekend.

Books will be arranged by categories, and tables will be clearly marked. So, you can immediately head to the area with titles you are most interested in. You will get the feeling you are in a great book shop. Categories include biography, children’s, cookbooks, fiction hardback, fiction paperback, health, history, native American, recreation, religion and travel.

Bags will be available for your purchases, but more and more buyers come with their own sturdy bags and boxes. Shoppers have been seen in the past with plastic storage containers and children’s wagons, piling them with books. Feel free to get creative about your “shopping carts.” Based on personal experience from my first book sale, I do not recommend making personal stash piles in a corner of the room or under a table unless you have someone standing guard over your books. The pile will appear to be fair game to other shoppers, and your treasures can easily and quickly disappear.

In addition to the books the Friends offer new, book-related items for purchase. There will be bookmark series created by local artists. And strong, attractive book bags in two different colors will be available. These bags are wonderful for use not only at the book sale, but also for carrying books from the Sisson Library or on a trip. The popular Reading Woman series of journals, note cards and postcards will also be available. You will also be able to sign up for the “City Market Cares” program that benefits the library.

Shopping can be hard work, and you might work up a good appetite. There is a solution to that as well. The Civic Club ladies will be holding a bake sale to help you out. If you’ve tasted their treats at the annual Civic Club Bazaar in November, you’ll know how important it is for you to stop by their table. All their proceeds will be going to the library as well.

The Friends (and the library staff!) always welcome members who wish to actively participate in the organization throughout the year. You might enjoy behind-the-scenes work for the book sale. This work continues throughout the year. You might enjoy shelving books, presenting programs, working on displays, helping with children’s activities, straightening magazines, or keeping a certain area of the books in order. There is a wide range of volunteer activities available. The library director is Jackie Welch (264-2208), and she’d love to talk with you about these and other volunteer opportunities. You can commit to a certain day of the week or to a certain task. Or, you might prefer to just “drop in” and shelve books, or see if there is something that needs to be done. You might even be interested in serving on the board of the Friends.

A Friends volunteer event that must be mentioned is the annual volunteer and staff cleaning party on Jan. 1 of each year. The books and shelves receive a thorough cleaning and dusting throughout the morning, then, a familiar theme presents itself: ”The way to someone’s heart is through the stomach,” and there is a delicious lunch to enjoy when the work is done.

The idea for a Friends of the Library group began with a suggestion from the Woman’s Civic Club and the Library trustees in 1978. A steering committee was formed in 1981, and the first organizational meeting was held June 4, 1983. Among the members of this steering committee were Lenore Bright (former library director), Charla Ellis, Betty Feazel, Ruby Sisson and Kate Terry. The Friends membership that first year was 35. The next year it jumped to 110. This was a great beginning, but what will the membership number be by July 17-18, 2009?

Will your name be on that list?