By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN - Several upgrades have been occurring at the Howard Lake Library since the Friends of the Howard Lake Library formed in 2004.
“The Friends are a huge asset to the library,” Librarian Deb Cox-Johnson said. “It’s a group of supporters who plan events, fundraise, decorate the library, and support all of our projects and efforts.”
The group boasts about 30 members from around the community.
“An earlier group, not called Friends, was very instrumental in getting a library,” Friends member Sue Claussen explained.
“What galvanized us to form was an article in the newspaper in 2004 about a Friends group starting in Cokato. We asked the Howard Lake librarian at the time if we could do the same,” Claussen added.
The first fundraiser the group coordinated was the Good Neighbor Days book and food sale in 2004. With the proceeds, the group purchased a second Internet computer for the library.
The library currently has three Internet computers available for patrons to use.
The group also lobbied the Howard Lake City Council not to sell the open lot just north of the library so that one day, if possible, the library could expand.
“You can’t expand if you don’t have the land,” Claussen said.
In 2005, the library celebrated its 100th anniversary, and this special milestone was commemorated with a cancellation stamp at the post office, and the library’s logo was on the Good Neighbor Days button that year.
In 2006 and 2007, the Friends were busy with the new landscaping outside the front of the library.
The City of Howard Lake provided money for the cement work and retaining walls, the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA chapter installed the retaining walls, and a local 4-H group planted the shrubs and flowers that the Friends provided.
“One of our Friends members did the paperwork for the library’s official non-profit status,” Claussen said, “which was a major project, and opened us up for grants.”
New furniture in the adult reading area was supplied by the Friends in 2008, as well a large organizer in the children’s area.
Angela Lachermeier of What’s Next? art studio in Waverly volunteered her time and talents to paint a colorful mural on the organizer, as well as murals in the bathrooms.
“She’s a big supporter,” Claussen said, “it was really nice of her to do that.”
Claussen also explained that now is not the time to do further expansion because of the economy, and that the library and the Friends always strive to make the best use of the space inside the library and make it the best possible library experience.
Cox-Johnson raved, “The Friends also support the library and librarian by providing refreshments and extra assistance at events. They are major contributors to the summer reading program. They find and purchase all of the prizes we give away locally. They coordinate the after summer reading program party that is very much enjoyed by the children.”
She continued, “Their web site provides additional publicity for library events, and it highlights past events with articles and photos. And they’ve provided an extra workstation for an additional librarian computer, which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
The Friends of the Howard Lake Library web site can be found at www.hjorgs.com/hl-libraryfriends.
National Friends of Libraries week is Sunday through Saturday, Oct. 18 through 24. New Friends members are always welcome to join.
The next Friends event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10, which will entail pumpkin painting. More information about this popular event will be published in upcoming weeks.