Friends name volunteer of the year
By Paul Dreossi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Friends of the St. Marys Public Library (FOL) celebrated their substantial contributions to the St. Marys Public library during 2019 and planned objectives for the upcoming year during their Annual General Meeting on January 25. The group of volunteers operate the FOL as a registered charity and support the library through their mandate that is committed to help support the learning, literacy, research and communication needs of the community. The FOL aid the library by raising funds used in support of library collections, library services and programing, and the acquisition and support of new and existing technologies within the library. Further, FOL members are active volunteers at community and library events, such as their popular book sales, as well as promoting the library as a cultural center in the town.
The two book sales of 2019, as well as a third pop-up sale during Heritage Day netted nearly $10,000 for the cause. Additional donations amounted to $7,000, including a most remarkable anonymous private donation of $5,000. The FOL uses these funds, in addition to others, to assist the Library in running its popular Summer Reading Program, to acquire subscriptions to several international newspapers, and to stock a new book kiosk at the PRC. Further contributions made to the library include funds for the professional development of staff, sponsoring an annual poetry contest, and beautifying the library with interior plants as well as flower urns on the sidewalk. Every year, the FOL management team selects a member of the FOL who has demonstrated outstanding service through their contributions and efforts, and this year the worthy recipient was St. Marys resident Mrs. Monica Herten.
In an era of provincially mandated cutbacks to municipal services, organizations like the FOL are of even greater value than in the recent past as provincial cutbacks have reduced the Southern Ontario Library Service funding by 50 %. The St. Marys Public Library shares an inter-library loan system with several other libraries in Perth County. Recent cutbacks have meant the loss of funds for the transportation van, driver and maintaince costs. Fortunately, the three libraries involved were able to purchase a new van using reserve capital, and are able to cover staffing and operating costs for the vehicle.
The number of users at the St. Marys Public Library is very high given the population of the Town. In 2019, 81,903 items were checked out by 2,735 card holders, and some 9,526 public computer sessions and 257 meeting room bookings were enjoyed by the total number of 52,769 annual visitors to the library. The library strives to meet the needs of the community it serves and is expanding its offerings to users. Recent purchases include a vinyl cutter and laminator, as well as a heat press, that have been installed in the Library’s “MakerSpace.” Enhanced WiFi access stations, a new software program called resource CollectionHQ, and an enlarged children’s resource database are just some of the new areas of expansion at the library. The library still has a vigorous school outreach program serving the local elementary schools, where a staff member visits schools and reads aloud selections from the library’s collection. The job posting for the position of St. Marys Public Library CEO has recently closed, and the Town of St. Marys Human Resources team are currently engaged in their selection process.