By Rusty Bradshaw
The Friends of the Sun City Libraries went above and beyond supporting libraries in 2016 with contributions to other community needs.
In addition to its financial and material support to the libraries, the Friends contributed $30,000 to other causes in 2016. Those included $5,000 to the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum, $1,000 to the Sun City Octogenarian Golf Tournament and others.
One of the most important non-financial or non-material contributions to the community came through the satisfaction of reading for many homebound residents through the Book Buddies program. Under the guidance of Judy Wannamaker, the program delivers library materials to the homebound. Book Buddies volunteers gave more than 500 hours of their time to the community in 2016.
“We added a new committee member, Charlotte Klose, who is working to start a ‘Book Friend’ program that will have volunteers reading to local memory care patients,” Ms. Wannamaker said.
The Friends group had a banner year in many ways, according to board member Tom Everitt in its annual report.
“Our mission to enhance the community through support for the Sun City libraries was at the forefront of each accomplishment,” he stated in the report.
The group’s Books Around the Corner bookstore had another record breaking year, with total sales of $38,783, according to Mary Anne McDonald, bookstore manager.
“Ms. McDonald was busy in 2016, not only with those record sales, but also a project that upgraded labels on every shelf using locally made metal labels,” Mr. Everitt stated. “Mary Anne also enjoyed a good volume of eBay sales to take advantage of a wider market for our more valuable books.”
The Friends’ website, suncitylibraryfriends.org, celebrated its second full year in operation at the end of 2016. The total number of unique visitors to the site increased from 3,366 in 2015 to 7,247 in 2016, a jump of 74 percent, according to Marcia Davis, Friends board president.
The Finance Committee, under the direction of Treasurer Sue Painter, who is now retired from the board, continued to manage the Friends investments wisely, according to Mr. Everitt. The committee implemented a standard three meetings per year schedule — or more if needed — with the two investment institutions to keep an even closer eye on the Friends’ investments during potentially volatile times, he added.
The Publicity Committee, under the direction of Roberta Hawksworth, kept the group in the public eye. The committee developed a one-page flier featuring the Friends and Sun City Library history timeline that will be used at community expos and fairs, full size volunteer recruitment posters and magnet give-aways, according to Mr. Everitt. The committee also implemented the first bookmark contest that awarded gift certificates to the winning adult and child entries.
The Friends were featured in several Independent stories again this year, he added. Mr. Everitt took on a committee/adviser role of writer and editor of the group’s newsletter and produces informative and amusing Sun View columns monthly. Sue Blechl took on the committee role of community outreach manager and is in charge of all Friends community events, which expanded to several new venues this year, according to Mr. Everitt.
The Board Development Committee, led by Ms. Wannamaker, recruited six new board members, including Charlotte Klose, Joyce Kirkham, Sue Blechl, Tim Geiger, Jessica Potter Slider and Cathy Weyers, Mr. Everitt explained.
“This put the Friends Board of Directors in the enviable position of being able to immediately replace members who were coming to the end of their six-year term limit, including president (in February of 2016) soon to be treasurer (in February 2017),” he stated.
Camilla Kuberka, Activities Committee chairwoman, had charge of the cache of Friends volunteers, who donated about 10,000 hours to the community through Friends programs, according to Mr. Everitt. Events included a summer ice cream social, a Christmas party and the annual recognition dinner at the Palmbrook Country Club, 9350 W. Greenway Road. Each event was filled with good food, lots of prizes, gifts and recognition and great entertainment, according to Ms. Kuberka.
The Friends conducted a volunteer survey at the recognition dinner that had an 85 percent response rate. Mr. Everitt said survey results showed volunteers absolutely love what they do.
“Working with people, books, other volunteers and library staff, and feeling useful topped the list of what they enjoyed most,” Mr. Everitt stated. “Some constructive suggestions were also welcome, and made their way into the board goals throughout the year.”
He also stated no list of Friends accomplishments would be complete without mentioning the group’s partners — the Maricopa County Library District and the Recreation Centers of Sun City. MCLD not only served nearly 200,000 customers in 2016 at the two Sun City libraries with close to 400,000 circulation items, but also started Saturday hours at the Fairway Branch to address higher demand, and arranged nearly 500 community programs, many of which the Friends were able to financially support.
“Overall 7,000 attendees enjoyed these wonderful programs in 2016,” Mr. Everitt stated.