Everyone needs a friend - especially our Beaufort County libraries

Hilton Head Island libraryMarch 4, 2012 

What is a good friend? Friends are a pretty important part of most people's lives. It's good to have a group of friends surrounding you. Our libraries certainly do.

A friend is someone who's there to provide support when times are tough, or someone who celebrates a special moment with you. The Friends of the Library are people just like you who enjoy the library and support its programs and services in a variety of ways. The mission of the Friends of the Library is to promote literacy and encourage the pursuit of lifelong learning through the use of the library's resources.

Each large library branch has a wonderful Friends of the Library group. The Hilton Head Island Friends group was organized in 1971. They have been dedicated to supporting and improving our library for more than 41 years. Volunteers run a bookstore in the library lobby, which provides some revenue for buying equipment, library materials, databases and supplies that are not covered by county or state funds. Every purchase helps the library.

The Friends of the Northern Beaufort County support the Beaufort, Lobeco and St. Helena branches. Last fiscal year, they contributed an all-time high amount. They earn money by holding two book sales each year.

The Bluffton Friends group evolved from a group of dedicated supporters who played key roles in the late '80s, establishing the first Bluffton library on Boundary Street. They also facilitated support for the current 25,000-square-foot building, which opened in 2002.

All Friends groups sponsor programming such as book reviews, film series, writers workshops and youth programs. Each group has a newsletter for members to keep up with what is happening at the library. Recently, a library customer wanted to prepare for an upcoming job interview and was directed to a wonderful research tool, Reference USA. This database was paid for by Friends of the Library Hilton Head. You can visit any of our branches and find resources that were purchased by Friends. In addition to monetary support, the Friends groups support our libraries through advocacy efforts, volunteering in the library and collaborating with both county and state organizations.

The libraries in our community are there for you. We all need help during these tough times. Get involved; your voice counts. Approach your neighbors and friends about becoming a member.

For more information about your local public library's Friends group, just ask the staff of your local library. You can also access our website at www.beaufortcountylibrary.org and look under "Get Involved for Friends" groups.

Mary Jo Berkes is the branch manager of the Hilton Head Island library.

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