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Friends of the Library: Helping However They Can

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In Collingswood: Friends of the Library (FOL) is truly in the library’s corner and beyond. After speaking with FOL President Anita Schoeffling, FOL Treasurer Anne Woodcock and the director of Collingswood library, Carissa Schanely, I learned just how far FOL is willing to go to help. “We help out where we can,” Shoeffling explains. From carpentry to revamping hangers at their staff’s requests, FOL dives in to assist. 

In 1972, Mrs. Fredrick VanIstenal, President of the woman’s club, and Mrs. W.B Williams, administrative coordinator of the library, came together to create Friends of Collingswood Library. Their initial goal to bring awareness to the library and its services have expanded exponentially since. 

Encouraging education and cultural development within the community, seasonal programs such as book clubs and youth services are funded by the help of FOL, who collects their contributions through their fundraising efforts. FOL provides funding for presenters, materials and other much-needed encouragement for the city of Collingswood. Because of FOL’s efforts, the library can assist the community even further with Memory bags, Museum passes and heavily discounted books for avid book worms.

Patrons are invited to check out the Friends of the Library lobby sale. Books donated from the community or books released from the library are up for sale underneath the banner. DVDs are also included and are reasonably priced. Patrons can snag a DVD for a buck. 

A library card goes beyond borrowing books and DVDs. Sponsored by FOL, patrons can use their library cards to utilize family museum passes. Walk up to the front desk and check out the museum pass case to the left. With over ten museums to choose from, any card holder and their families can have a more interactive experience with education. Or a nice brunch date. 

  • Academy of Natural Sciences
  • African American Museum of Philadelphia 
  • Battleship New Jersey Museum
  • Eastern State Penitentiary
  • Independence Seaport Museum
  • Museum of the American Revolution
  • Mutter Museum
  • National Liberty Museum
  • Penn Museum (The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
  • Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge

Last year’s fundraising efforts were able to highlight and give care to those with dementia.

Memory bags were made to encourage conversation, creating and reading for people with dementia. Each bag contains items that stimulate the senses and encourage pleasant memories. Patrons can borrow one of these encouraging memory bags for up to three weeks.

  • Art Bag: Pictures, coloring pages, crayons,and pencils. Great for someone who may not be verbal but can appreciate art. 
  • Leisure Bag: Music, books with larger font and a less complex storyline for adults. 

Fundraising efforts were a bit challenging during the pandemic. Nonetheless, FOL was right beside Collingswood library, flowing and adapting with the changes. Providing personal protective equipment, thermometers, sponsoring virtual programming, e-titles and much more. The FOL made sure to keep people reading during an unprecedented time.

Before the COVID-19 shutdowns, FOL held races, dances, karaoke nights and much more. Considering the world’s circumstances, FOL held back on requesting sponsorship to provide more ease during such a heavy time. This year, their end of the year fundraiser will be a giving tree. After Thanksgiving, you’ll find a small tree with ornaments related to the theme. The theme for 2021’s end of the year fundraiser will be graphic novel related. 

After carrying graphic novels for over ten years, it’s time for a revamp! Collingswood library now can weed out the collection and add new material. With Manga, superheroes and art-focused options, there are graphic novels available for all ages.

With libraries lacking in general funding, public libraries must have sturdy support. The Friends of Collingswood Library picks up the tab and helps push the library forward!

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