The Friends of Elkhart Public Library provide more than just financial support for the library, they are a network of volunteers and donors committed to making it better for the community.
According to Friends of EPL president Ken Clayborn, the group is seven years old, boasts about 140 members, and provides tremendous assistance to the library system in the city.
“The Friends raise money for grants that the library can use to buy things that are not in their budget,” Clayborn said.
Many of the items that the Friends purchase are items used as giveaways and prizes in various programs but they also provide equipment to library departments, such as a book binder for the technical services department to assist with book repairs, Clayborn said.
He said that the Friends do several fundraisers throughout the year, the biggest of which is the bimonthly book sales, as well as the ongoing book sale shelves at all EPL branches.
By the end of the year, Clayborn said that the Friends will have awarded $16,000 in grant money to the library and various programs.
Over the last two years they’ve purchased furniture, a LEGO table, software, tablets, FitBits and community chess boards, according to Clayborn.
Members of the Friends said their service and commitment to the group came from their passion for libraries.
“I love libraries, I think they’re very important for the health of a community, not just the emotional and mental health but encouraging some of the things like we do with the FitBits, the walking, the people outside playing chess, some of those communal aspects of libraries can bring people together,” Clayborn said.
Friends member Gloria Taylor echoed that idea of community.
“I think it’s important for the city to have a public library and I want to do whatever I can to keep it going and make it better place for the community,” she said. “I think through things that the friends do, the community can see what’s available at the library.”
Clayborn said that the Friends are always looking for new members and that people can be as involved as they want, simply paying dues, volunteering or becoming an active board member.
“People don’t realize how many resources are available at the library and in a way being a Friend of the Library is a way of paying that back,” he said.
The Friends have a couple of fundraisers coming up.
Plans are underway on the Trees, Trees, Trees events, which will have decorated trees available for silent auction at the beginning of November at the downtown library, Clayborn said.
A trivia fundraiser is currently being planned for early 2018, he said. Book sales are the first Saturday of every month, with the next one scheduled for Nov. 4.
For more information on the Friends or to get a membership application click here.