Ventura Friends of the Library celebrates 50 years of service

The Rubicon’s Broadway Juniors entertained at the library.

by Jill Forman

“Libraries were my salvation!” That statement was made by local author and speaker Ivor Davis.

In that spirit, knowing that a flourishing library system is vital to so many in the community, in 1969 a small group of Ventura citizens formed what they then called the Friends of the San Buenaventura Library. Fifty years later the current Friends group celebrated the original organization’s members and the accomplishments of the Friends with a big party at the Hill Road Library, which the Friends partially funded.

Around 100 people showed up to the event: Friends, their guests, local dignitaries and helpers. They were greeted by balloons, music, hors d’oeuvres, door prizes and displays. The new Mobile Library/Bookmobile was parked outside for tours and information. A PowerPoint was playing on the library’s giant flat-screen with photos, documents, letters, newspaper articles and so on from the Friends’ archives. The original documents were displayed in scrapbooks that had been loving assembled for 50 years. One of the original Friends, Hazel Clymer, was on hand and enjoyed seeing a news photo of herself from the early days.

Hill Road Café furnished finger food on the patio; Ivor Davis served up drinks along with good cheer and smiles. Guitarist John Bardi strummed lovely, relaxing music. Guests checked in, chatted with Board members and local folks such as Councilmember Christy Weir, Mayor Matt LaVere, Library Director Nancy Schram, Senior City Librarian Irma Morales, and each other. Door prizes displayed were oohed and ahhed over as guests decided which one to put their tickets toward.

And then it was time for the show. Mark Lager, Library Technology Manager, served as Master of Ceremonies. After a welcome, he introduced the Broadway Juniors, directed by Miriam Arichea. These seven teens sang songs picked especially for the occasion to honor the Friends, such as “Thank You for Being a Friend” and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” The partygoers loved it.

Mayor LaVere spoke about the importance of a vibrant library system to a community. The emphasized that libraries are not a thing of the past, that all are welcome and all have access. He stated he is proud to be the mayor of a community that values and utilizes its libraries.

Director Schram thanked the Friends for their hard work and dedication; she said that Hill Road could not have opened without their financial contribution, over $200,000. The Friends also pay for the Summer Reading programs, and many other programs. She gave Mary Olson, Friends President, a certificate from the County library system of thanks for 50 years of service and advocacy.

Olson gave a brief overview of the history of the Friends. She emphasized that libraries are dynamic, offer more services than most people realize, and that everyone is welcome.

Door prizes were eagerly awaited, and local celebrity Ivor Davis made the ticket-drawing fun. There were wine and cheese baskets, a beautiful hand-made wooden salad bowl, tickets to theater and music events, books, etc.

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