WILLCOX – The Elsie S. Hogan Friends of the Library organization announced donations of $500 each to the Willcox high, middle and elementary School Learning Resource Center libraries on Aug. 30.
The library can use the donations to supplement their budgets.
“We might provide some of the tangibles the library uses and doesn’t have room for in their budget,” Sharon Hill said. She’s a member of the Elsie S. Hogan Friends of the Library, and a volunteer at The Friendly Bookstore, the group’s retail outlet.
According to Hill, the FOL will make a similar contribution to the school’s libraries in the spring.
The nonprofit in Willcox is like the many organizations that share the common name “Friend of the Library,” volunteer-supported groups with local libraries across the country. It’s a local thing.
“Friends of the Library exists in any community that has a public library,” Hill said.
“A public library fills its shelves with public money in the way of books, so when those books are no longer needed or materials are no longer needed, they still should be dispersed to the public.
“FOLs are created and supported by volunteers. They received the library’s donations, they also received the donations of any private citizen, and then that money that we generate is donated back to the library for services.
“If you take your toddler to a story time and they might have punch and cookies, that’s what we might have provided, and it’s a good cycle, because libraries are funded by the library district tax, typically a part of your property tax throughout the country. There’s not always room for extras, and this way there is. Books aren’t put in dumpsters, or they’re not given with favoritism to one organization over another.”
The Willcox FOL, consisting of about 30 members, has a long history of support for the city’s libraries and its community.
When the new Willcox library was built the FOL donated $10,000, and after a renovation and expansion in 2014, the group purchased more than $20,000 worth of furniture for the children and teen sections and the solarium.
It has contributed funding for computers, shelving and various programs like Arizona Collection, children’s books and programs, the teen program and TAG Magazine and Summer Reading Program.
In past years the group used contributions to fund scholarships of up to $1,200 for local students. In the more recent decade, it focused contributing directly to Elsie S. Hogan Library, a move the FOL hoped would spread the benefits of funding rather than concentrate it on the more selective scholarship process.
The bookstore has something of interest to all ages, popular books as well as classics, DVDs, CDs, puzzles, maps, records, cassettes and videos.
Customers might find local historical society materials and books on regional history and works by local and regional authors.
The items they sell come from community donations as well as library discards. The money generated from these sales goes right back into the community through support of local library programs.
In 1981, chairman of the library board Glen Leonard assigned a committee to set up the FOL. The first committee was made up of Kathy Klump, Terry Rowden and Lois Fisher. Klump is the current chair of the nonprofit.
A member named Corrie Folks had the idea to start a bookstore in 1986. The store’s location bounced around various historic buildings over the years, and in 2014 landed in its present location.
By then the books had been moved around a half-dozen times.
The bookstore is at 128 E.t Maley St., between Bakester’s Pastries and Chiricahua Regional Museum. In May the bookstore celebrated its 36th official birthday.
On any given sunny day, except Sundays, Willcox residents have become used to the store’s overflow of books spilling onto shelves and tables on the sidewalk or the old lumber store courtyard.
When the bookstore’s door is closed anyone can buy the books outside by dropping change through the mail slot on the door, like a friendly neighbor.