Kudos for the Ventura Friends of the Library

by Jill Forman, member of the Board of the Ventura Friends of the Library

The County Board of Supervisors gave the Friends of the Library a round of applause recently. The Friends had just pledged to give over $200,000 to help establish a new branch library.

Why the applause? As Nancy Schram, Deputy Library Director, said in her address to the Board, “The Friends is a grass-roots organization…made much of this money holding book sales…selling books for as little as 25 cents.” That is a lot of book sales, a lot of books, and a lot of hard work.

As Supervisor Steve Bennet pointed out, this is a perfect example of the government and the community working together for a common goal. The remainder of the funding for the branch is coming from governmental agencies and a trust.

The new branch will be on Hill Road, across the from the government center. It is on a bus line, in a heavily-trafficked area of the city. East Ventura has not had a library branch since the closing of Wright Library in 2009.

The Friends take in donated books in decent condition, sort and price them, and have periodic book sales. The sales involve boxing up the books, loading the boxes onto trucks, and taking them to the sale site. They also bring tables, chairs, signs, bookends…and themselves. At the most recent sale, many volunteers worked 10 hours including setup, sales, and takedown. Most of the regular volunteers are in their 70’s and up, and it’s a long day.

All the money from sales, memberships and donations, goes to support Ventura’s libraries. They fund the Summer Reading Program, and year-round reading programs for children and youth. They purchase supplies and materials for activities. They have been fighting for an East side site: attending government meetings, writing letters, serving on commissions, speaking with officials. This new branch is a dream come true for the organization.

The new branch will combine the best of traditional libraries with innovative technology and mobile furnishings. There will be adult literacy training, early childhood literacy classes, and a collection of print materials. The staff is excited to have this opportunity to build a branch to “…enable residents to explore, discover, and connect with the world,” in the words of a Library Services flyer.

Kathy Thomson, President of the Friends, asks all Venturans to join the Ventura Friends of the Library to support this vital service.

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