The Friends of the Library volunteer organization announced this week the annual picnic fundraiser for the facility has been canceled this year. The event was scheduled for September 19.
“Since the city of St. James took over the ownership and running of the James Memorial Public Library, a group of volunteers have organized themselves into the hospitality branch of the library. The Friends of the library (FOL) sponsor events, family days, speakers, a book sale, Halloween book giveaway, and photos with Santa each December,” said Johanna MacPherson, member of the FOL. “Our big event is the September 19th Lucy’s Playhouse Picnic, which has evolved over seven years to include raffles, bake sales, music, pony rides, and a fabulous smoked rib and brat dinner served under the tents and lights and trees. This is our only event that charges admission.”
Due to safety concerns and the difficulties of fundraising during the COVID-19 pandemic, FOL has decided to cancel this year’s event and turn its attention to events later in the year for the public.
“The picnic is canceled for 2020, because of food safety issues and crowd closeness, but above all, because it is a fundraiser,” MacPherson explained. “These seven years we have been working with the community of St. James for the benefit of our library have been generous, and the FOL has funds for its commitments to library programs and library needs. We cannot ask our friends to give money in hard times, when we have plenty of reserves.”
FOL will look at two future events for the public held each year, the annual Boooookfest for Halloween and a Photos with Santa party in December. These events are always free to the public and allow the library to give books away and to provide a place for families to come and get their pictures taken.
“The FOL will host two other events on the calendar for 2020. At Halloween every year, we have a boooookfest where patrons in costume come to the library for a book and candy giveaway. This year, we will host on Friday, October 20 from 4 to 6 p.m.,” MacPherson said. “We invite children and families to come to the library and receive a presorted and prewrapped new book and treat. We have bright lights outside, thanks to a new installation and will ask our Halloween participants to parade outside the library while accepting books at the entrance, weather permitting.”
The annual Santa at the Library will return on December 3, with some details still to be finalized. This is also a free event and it will be modified this year to allow for distancing and other safety concerns, but Santa will be in attendance and will provide a chance for free photos for the holidays.
“The FOL wants to commend the staff of our library for performing some amazing work during the COVID closure. We have a new ADA bathroom completed, a new Wi-Fi system, new paint on the walls, and a fabulous new arrangement of all the stacks of books. Thanks to Michael Lewis, our new director, and Niki Moen and Sara Ray, for moving by hand at least six times each, all of those books,” she said.
While the remodel is not completely finished, users can enjoy much wider aisles, the newly completed bathroom with child changing table and wheelchair access, and the usual facilities patrons have used for years.
“The library is open, with modifications. Masks are required and are available at the entrance, along with hand sanitizer and a separate table for returned books to be placed. Patrons are asked to stay no longer than 30 minutes and a limit of 10 people may be in the library at once. These precautions are at the discretion of the director and he has researched the policies of several libraries, as well as has kept up with the COVID case numbers in our region and community. We can feel well taken care of at the James Memorial Public Library,” MacPherson said.
“Our library was built in 1953 by the James Foundation, who fully funded and staffed it until 2013, when it was suddenly presented to the city. A library tax had to be passed, because no budget existed, nor was any forthcoming from the James Foundation. Since that transition, we have seen our library grow, flourish and revive in a strong swell of community support and participation. With our remodeled facility and new director, we can look forward to seeing more innovations and interest in our wonderful library. The Friends of the Library welcome anyone who wants to be a friend, dues are slight, volunteering for events is our main purpose and activity. The next meeting of the FOL will be Thursday, October 15, 2020, at 7 p.m. at the James Memorial Public Library,” MacPherson said.