This year the Friends of the Library of Collier County (FLCC) is celebrating its 55th birthday, tracing roots back to 1932 when the Naples Women’s Club established a small reading room in its clubhouse. Popularity grew through the years, so in 1957 community leaders successfully petitioned the county to provide funds for a public library system. Today there are 10 libraries in Collier County.
In 1968 the Marco Women’s Club began a small library on the Island with $1,800 and 350 donated books in a chickee-style one-room hut where the Community Health Center is now. In 1974 they moved to a building on Winterberry Drive, a county office today. Our library’s present home on Heathwood Drive was dedicated on Sept. 1, 1988.
Although FLCC expands to all county facilities, an auxiliary group with a separate board of directors, Friends of the Library Marco Island (FLMI), was formed in 1995 to focus on the needs of our Island branch
FLMI’s mission is to support our library’s various needs. A new conference table with reupholstered chairs, reading couch, love seat and office equipment are some of the visible benefits of the Friends’ generosity.
Of course, Rose Hall is the best-known project undertaken by the group, which was funded in large part by a benevolent gift from the late Bill Rose and his wife, Myrt. Many of the library’s improvements are possible because of the kind-hearted generosity and hard work of Marco’s dedicated volunteers. Marco has spotlighted three.
Delores Siegel spent 20 years as a St. Louis kindergarten teacher, so education is close to her heart. Joining Friends six years ago was a perfect fit, and last April, she became president. Her insight on education fuels her passion for helping others learn, and the skills she acquired in sales and marketing help her lead the group to promote and support the library. She works in her volunteer hours around tennis competitions, golf and her own avid reading. One of her favorite books is “John Adams,” by David McCullough and notes that he makes history come alive. “You have to count your blessings and say it’s time for me to give back. The library is one more thing that keeps Marco Island a vibrant city.”
Twenty-year Marco resident, Bea Sebastian serves as a board member-at-large of the Marco Friends, but found she wanted to do even more. As a young girl, she remembered volunteering at her school library. Once a week, she volunteers at the Marco branch shelving returns, helping patrons locate books, even at times recommending titles to patrons.
Today she’s a fan of family sagas and one of her favorites, “Roses” by Leila Meacham, must be popular with many folks, since it’s often checked out. She knows, because she keeps track of her favorites as she shelves returned books, even jotting down interesting titles she hasn’t read as a reminder to check them out later. Her work with the Friends organization as well as being a library volunteer has filled many hours with enjoyment. “Get out, laugh and enjoy each other.”
Joanne Foote has been a past Lt. Commander of the Power Squadron, a docent at the Marco Center for the Arts and a board member of the Marco Island Historical Museum and now serves as secretary of the Marco Friends. Just like her friend Sebastian, Foote manages to squeeze in a two hours as a library volunteer. “I love books and wanted to help where I could,” said Foote.
Foote also helps manage the art exhibit inside the library, rotating paintings for the displays. “Pillars of the Earth” is one of her favorites since she gravitates toward a blend of history and fiction, although high on her list of favorite authors is Nelson DeMille.
Branch Manager Catherine Cowser is grateful for all the help not only from the FLMI, but also from the dedicated community volunteers who give their time to help the staff. “They are an integral part of the library process,” she said, and not only for the physical work they do. “They make the library a pleasant place,” said Cowser. “They offer good conversation and friendly smiles.”
BE A FRIEND OF THE LIBRARY
Join online at www.collier-friends.org, pick up an application at your local branch, or call (239) 262-8135.