‘Friends of the Library’ has deep roots in community
Are you a bibliophile?
If you love books, then the Clay County Friends of the Library is looking for you.
“There’s something about holding a book in your hands that will always be more satisfying than the technology available today,” said Sherry Ray, president of the local group whose members volunteer to raise funds, help out at various adult and children’s programs and provide support to the Brazil Public Library. “I’d rather have a book than electronics any day.”
The volunteer group, Ray says, has a spirit and roots that run deep in the community’s history.
When in it’s infancy as a village (around 1866-1876) Brazil was growing fast because of the local coal and iron ore mines. A group of “cultured women” endeavored to create a library. With a initial collection of 30 books, the women set out to raise money to purchase more, and ultimately have a building to house them in. The growing collection was shifted around various places in the city, including a period of time that it was at the city treasurer’s office with L.O. Schultz acting as librarian to ensure reading material was available to everyone who could and would read.
The members of the Ladies’ Literacy Society, established in 1879 as well as the first Library Board, were the roots of what would ultimately become known as the current day Friends of the Library.
After a lot of fundraising dinners and various events, the group was able to raise enough funds to establish a bank account with the goal of building a library. Meanwhile, the efforts of the group convinced business magnate and wealthy philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to financially support the building of the Brazil library. On October 18, 1904, the building located at 204 North Walnut Street, which is created of Indiana limestone, was formally dedicated to and is said to be the only library in the United States with a carving on the front that states it was donated by Andrew Carnegie.
The Clay County Friends of the Library were officially incorporated as a non-profit organization in September 1983. There are groups like the local Friends of the Library supporting other libraries throughout the nation.
“The used book sales are our main fundraising efforts now,” said Ray, who advised book lovers and avid readers should take note of the upcoming sales. “There are going to be some really good deals coming up. We are hoping to sell a lot of what is currently in storage to make way for newer items.”
Ray, who is an avid reader, says it just makes sense to shop for used books.
“You can purchase them for a great low price, way cheaper then in the retail stores,” she said. “Read them, and take them right back for others to read and then buy even more at great prices.”
She said shoppers should also check out the “grab bags” filled with books at each sale.
“It will have written on the outside what they are, like romance or westerns, and you can buy the whole bag for like .50 cents,” said Ray. “These sales, which we have people who are avid readers and repeater shoppers stop in all the time, help get books out there to everyone, and supports many programs for residents at the library.”
Ray said the annual $10 per person or $15 per couple membership fees are also pooled with those funds to support various programs -- like summer reading, adult reading, craft programs and guest speakers are just to mention a few -- and help purchase items for the library. Membership fees as well as donations can be made to the Friends of the Library at the Brazil Public Library anytime it is open. She also said that having a membership only requires a small amount of time throughout the year, a couple hours to help out during a sale or during a program is all it takes.
“Applications are available at the library and anyone can be a member,” Ray said. “We’d love to see some younger people join and have a more active group.”
The next used book sale will take place at the Clay County Friends of the Library Book Shoppe in the parking lot across from the Brazil Public Library March 15-17. Doors open for three days, 2-7 p.m. on Thursdays, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The Clay County Friends of the Library holds book sales from January through October, including the following dates:
September 20-22, and
These sales take place Thursday through Saturdays during the above months at the building in the parking lot across from the Brazil Public Library located at 204 North Walnut Street, Brazil.
The doors open from 2-7 p.m. on Thursdays, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The used books and other items available at the sales come from decommissioned items the library takes out of its collection or gently used books donated to the program.