DELTA - Unless the Delta Public Library can find some friends, it might have to close the books on an organization that has helped to encourage thousands of children to read.
Organized in 1986, the group known as Friends of the Library is to celebrate its 20th anniversary this August. However, because of a lack of response, the Friends' Feb. 16 meeting has been called off, and the executive committee has decided to meet to discuss the future of the organization that has raised thousands of dollars through the years to benefit the Delta library.
"We're not picking up new members to replace the older members," said Patricia Grover, library director, about the dwindling roster, noting that other groups, such as service organizations, also are experiencing difficulty in attracting new, younger members. There seem to be many reasons, she said.
Being part of a civic organization has been replaced with other things. "We're in an aging population. Some people in their 70s are taking care of their parents in their 90s. Some people are busier working, and some are busy taking care of their children " she said.
Many of the Friends of the Library's founding members have passed away or are retired or in nursing homes, Mrs. Grover said. "Some of the most active members are in their 80s and a couple are in their 90s, so obviously we need some younger people to come in and do the heavy work."
That heavy work primarily involves fund-raising, including collecting advertisements for the annual Fulton County fair book. The main fund-raiser is the annual salad luncheon and Chinese auction. Members are needed to bring in salads and items for the auction. Younger members also are needed to help set up for the event that has drawn as many as 250 people. Friends of the Library members serve as hosts and hostesses for that event as well as for special events and programs.
"It would be a shame if we do not have the membership to organize the auction and buffet. It's an event people look forward to," Mrs. Grover said.
That event is particularly important because it raises funds for the library's popular summer reading program. Friends donated $2,000 last year to the program, said Rosemary Bay, a founding member of Friends of the Library. The luncheon and the Chinese auction event "is the main thing we do anymore. We used to have programs three or four times a year. We're kind of at a standstill anymore," Mrs. Bay said.
Friends' funds are used to "buy things to encourage kids to come and read during the summer," said Mrs. Grover. Participants receive little packages of prizes when they sign up, and additional prizes are awarded to students who read the most books during the summer. "If they get something tangible, it encourages them to keep reading." Other organizations, including the chamber of commerce, donate funds to the summer reading program.
Over the years, Friends of the Library has donated funds to help purchase a TV, a VCR, a pull-down screen, and a camera. Funds have been used to help promote library levies.
Friends of the Library lacks not only members, but leadership. The group's president recently resigned for personal reasons. The group is supposed to have two vice presidents, but it only has one.
To keep the group active, area residents are being asked to consider joining Friends of the Library. Mrs. Grover says all are welcome. "You never can have too many friends."
Contact Janet Romaker