Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Friends of library influence community

By Laura Schmidt

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — A local nonprofit organization has been making strides in the development and improvement of the Plattsburgh Public Library and has no intention of quitting.
            The Friends of the Plattsburgh Public Library — or simply the Friends — celebrated 25 years of supporting the library this past year and expect more successful years to come.
            The Friends have a mission to promote the library and its programs by advocating for public support, public use of the library and facilitating financial support, according to Pat Loughlin, president of the Friends.
            In other words, “showing people that the library is more than just books,” Loughlin said.
            Loughlin has been an active member of the Friends for 12 years and took on the position of president about four years ago.
            The group became an official charitable organization five years ago and since has continued to spread knowledge about what the library has to offer. They've been trying to get the community involved by hosting a number of events and fundraisers open to all members of the Plattsburgh community.
            Events such as their biannual book sale and dinners with guest speakers have been extremely successful in providing money needed to replace old items with new, updated ones and introducing the library with items it has never had before. Book sales are usually successful but result in a surplus of unsold books.
            Volunteers from SUNY Plattsburgh take part in helping the Friends with their book sales by packing up unsold books and transporting them into trucks to be taken to Better World Books, a business that collects and sells books online to donate books and promote literacy around the world.
            “Recently we've been using the EOP (educational opportunity program) from SUNY and that's working out very well,” Loughlin said.
            There are usually five to eight volunteers ready to help out, according to Jonathan Reid, assistant director of the EOP.
            “We put up a sign up sheet and let everybody know that it's going down,” Reid said.
            Students volunteer only an hour or two of their time but it really improves the efficiency of the book sales.
            Another way the library supports local community members is by having dinners with guest speakers such as local artists or authors. This gives locals a chance to talk about their work and educate people about topics not all are familiar with.
            Events aren't always about money but rather getting information out to the public about what great facilities the library has to offer and recruiting new members. Membership has been lacking in past years but the Friends have been working very hard to encourage new members to join and spread the word about the library and its events.
            “We, almost every year, fund summer programs for children” Kim Bailey, vice president and treasurer of the Friends, said.
            Over the years, the Friends have done a lot in the children's room of the library, according to Anne de la Chapelle, director of the library.
            “They (the Friends) are a part of our community outreach program,” Chapelle said. “They come in and help with special projects and host events.”
            The library has started a community outreach program in hopes to get feedback and suggestions from city members on how to improve the library.
            The Friends are vital when it comes to the efficiency and modernization of the library. They recently replaced a 1970 version of their book check machine, a machine that checks magnetization strips in books to ensure no one steal them, with a new one. They also allocate $3,000 for the library to buy new and best-selling books and new videos so the community has access to new and desirable material.
            “The Friends paid for new LED lights in the director’s office,” Chapelle said. “And that was really terrific.”
            PSUC student Haley Mooney, 19, enjoys going to the public library because some days it helps clear her mind and focus.
            “I like walking to the public library because sometimes the school's is too noisy and distracting,” Mooney said. “I also really like going to look at the art work.”
            The Hale-Walter Art Gallery is located in the library and features four local artists each year. Artists have a chance to showcase their art for a few months out of the year and this is a great opportunity for many.

            The Friends work to support the public library, Plattsburgh as a community, and all of its citizens. They have been a vital part of Plattsburgh's library for many years and have an incredibly positive influence on the entire town.

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