Group says library still has ‘Friends’

MARSHALL – After the Marshall-Lyon County Library and the Plum Creek Regional Library System officially parted ways this month, it left some questions unanswered – mainly questions of how it would affect library funding and services like interlibrary loans. However, two area residents say there are a lot of resources that won’t go away, because they’re locally funded.

Area community members and volunteer groups like the Friends of the Library actually help provide many of the resources and community programs offered at MLCL, said Judy Werpy, president of the Friends of the Library, and Friends member Rachel Breczinski.

‘We want people to know that we are supporting all these programs,” Werpy said. She said the organization plans to continue supporting the Marshall, Cottonwood and Balaton libraries any way it can.

A public library provides much more than books, Werpy and Breczinski said. And the community programs and resources that bring many people to MLCL get financial support from area residents.

“Our bookstore sales help,” Werpy said. The Friends of the Library maintain a year-round used book sale at the Marshall library, as well as holding some small occasional sales throughout the year. Werpy said the book sale is the group’s main fundraiser and has brought in about $8,000 a year during the past couple of years.

“All of those funds go to things at the library,” she said. That could include sponsoring programs, or buying equipment or supplies for the three MLCL library locations. “We try to do something different every year.”

The group doesn’t buy books or materials that library patrons check out.

“The library has its own budget for the books,” Werpy said. “We do the extra stuff.”

Werpy and Breczinski said the Friends of the Library have used funds in the past few years to purchase resources, including computers for the children’s department at the Marshall library and Ancestry.com subscriptions that allow patrons to do genealogical research. The Friends of the Library also contributed matching funds toward computers and furnishings when the Cottonwood library moved into its new location, she said.

Werpy estimated that the Friends of the Library have helped sponsor or support 25 to 30 community events since the new Marshall library building opened in 2011.

“We will sometimes pay honorariums or mileage for guest speakers. Sometimes we provide refreshments, or serve refreshments,” she said. The Friends of the Library are also involved in MLCL’s annual reading programs for kids, teens and adults.

“We buy all the supplies for it and the prizes,” Werpy said. She said one of the Friends’ most recent contributions was to purchase science experiment supplies for the summer children’s program.

Werpy said the Friends of the Library are still committed to supporting upcoming library programs this fall. She and Breczinski said it will be especially important for community members to support MLCL as an independent library.

“We think that public support to our (library) staff is very important. Even just support like saying, ‘We support you,'” Werpy said.

Having a variety of library resources benefits the whole community, they said.

“The library serves everybody. Young or old, everyone,” Breczinski said.

“I think because of that, the public supporting (the library) is important,” Werpy said.