by Jill Forman
Computer access at the libraries is back! Many people count on the libraries for computers for job and benefit applications, email, research and so on. That access has been unavailable for over six months and is now open, with limitations and safety restrictions, of course. You can call any branch of the Ventura libraries to make a reservation and learn what the new times and regulations are. If you have any online time, go to vencolibrary.org; there is a link: Need a computer session? To find out more, click here.
The Friends of the Library had their first outside book sale in eight months on October 24. It took place in the back lower parking lot of Foster Library. Despite, or maybe because of, the different traffic flow and procedures in place due to COVID-19, it went off without difficulty. The Friends had only a week to put it together after getting all the official permits, and did a great job. Thanks to Sandy Greenberg and all the volunteers.
“The strangest year ever,” was the opening statement of the annual meeting by President Mary Olsen.
Due to Friends bylaws, we had to have our Annual Meeting the day after the sale, via Zoom. The organization has accomplished so much, making changes and coming up with innovative ways to sell books and support the libraries. Olsen credits the success to the volunteers, saying she was “impressed at how much our volunteers wanted to continue their activities.”
The first few months of the pandemic, everything shut down for the Friends. We couldn’t get our books or computers out of the libraries, which were closed while they made a plan to keep the public and staff safe. The used book warehouse closed also while the volunteers regrouped. Amazon sales were suspended. Board meetings were cancelled in March and April while we waited to see what would happen.
In June things began to happen. A book sale committee was formed. Warehouse volunteers returned on a staggered schedule with COVID-19 procedures in place approved by the county. The idea of an online bookstore was suggested, with local pickup. The books for Amazon and from the bookstore and Hill Road shelves were retrieved, along with our computers. Volunteers started applying for grants. A letter went out to members asking for financial donations.
Folks in Ventura were cleaning out their closets and their bookshelves. As a result, the warehouse has been busy with donations. The book sale committee, with a lot of help, came up with a date and a safe plan for the outdoor sale since we had so many books. Amazon sales resumed. The online bookstore started in September.
Here are the impressive results: Amazon sales by Teddy Wood average $700 a month. The online store made over $450 its first full month thanks to Leslie Bellmore. Book sale $1000. Federal grant came in for $1000. Members donated $3000. We were able to give the libraries $17,000 this month. Not bad for a strange year…