The following reports were presented at the Annual Meeting held on December 4, 2023:
This is the first year that the Friends has been operating under new bylaws, passed at last year’s Annual Meeting. They have given the Board flexibility on how and when to hold meetings, setting a schedule for regular board elections and making it easier to ensure that the Friends can fulfill their mission of supporting the Library. After outreach from a Nominating Committee to members and the general community, we held our first Board election online from November 25 through December 1, and are pleased to add two new members to the Board: Aviva Klugh and Lou Curran.
The Board has been focusing on increasing membership and attracting more volunteers. We have thirty new members (up from 56 in FY 22 to 86 in FY 23), and we have had significant support from new volunteers Sara Roberson, Sarah Weissman, Jane Backert, Donnell Kelly, Suzette Morgan, and Katie Murtaugh. We are especially grateful to Sara Roberson and Sarah Weissman for their work on the Nominating Committee. We still hope to establish a membership committee and a gardening committee in the near future.
The Board also focused on raising the Friends’ profile in the community. Board Treasurer Derek Simmonsen sold books at the Tuesday Farmers Market, organized the Friends’ table at the Lauraville Fair, and also attended several other school and neighborhood events on behalf of the Friends. We also held a very successful used book sale in the library meeting room in July, with help from volunteers Sara Roberson, Sarah Weissman, and Katie Murtaugh. And for Banned Book week, Derek, Deborah Mason, and Tween librarian Melissa Foley-King, read banned board books to young children. Everyone—readers, parents, and especially the kids—had a blast! Additionally, the Friends continue to support and advertise library programs via email and Facebook. Friends members have also put on programs. Bill Barry presented programs on the Irish connections to Frederick Douglass, the women of Sparrows Point, and the Red Scare in Maryland. Board President Malissa Ruffner introduced Rachel Swarns, author of The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church, and then gave a talk on the intricacies of researching the genealogy of enslaved people.
At each of these events, members of the Board collected the names and information of new members and people interested in supporting the branch. Our email list now consists of nearly 200 names.
In August, the Board sent a letter to the Board of Municipal & Zoning Appeals urging it to prioritize pedestrian safety in its consideration of the proposed Royal Farms gas station across the street from the Library. Board Secretary Deborah Mason was preparing to testify at the hearing on December 5 when it was abruptly postponed to February 2024.
We bid farewell to Branch Manager Gabby Miller and welcomed Renee Marks who took over that role. We look forward to working with Renee in the coming year.
After so many highlights, it’s sad to end on a low note. As you probably know, the library used to have four beautiful wooden planters built by the Department of Transportation, installed on July 6, and filled by the Friends with $325 worth of perennials on October 30. Nicole Hartig suggested the plants, and she and Michael Lachance, Rochelle Hayward, and John Odell planted them. And then, on the night of the 28th of November, a car plowed into them and totally destroyed them. While we can only be grateful that no one was injured (or worse), it is disheartening to see so much hard work obliterated. But, with the support of the membership, the Board is hopeful that we can come up with a new way to beautify our wonderful branch library.
Deborah Mason , Board Secretary