By HATCHER HURD
ROSWELL, Ga. – Old friends usually make the best friends, and the Friends of the Roswell Library are the oldest – and one of the hardest working – Friends groups supporting Fulton County libraries.
Nancy Puckett should know. She founded the Friends of the Roswell Library in 1984 with like-minded bibliophiles who banded together to support and promote their library. This includes raising money for extras that the county cannot afford to provide, advocating for library services and volunteering to help the library from shelving books to conducting community programs.
“The volunteers go back to when the library was housed in that little white building across from City Hall,” Puckett said. “It had a leaky roof, and I was on the committee to build a new library.”
But the committee was convinced to throw in with a countywide library referendum.
“We knew the land was available, it was near the bus line and within walking distance from low-income housing,” Puckett said. “We pushed for the [present] location, and that was how the Friends got formed.”
The Roswell Friends has served as a template for other county libraries so that just about all 32 branch libraries has a Friends organization that helps their respective branches. Roswell has been able to help support other Friends groups.
“We have a good relationship with the South Fulton Regional Friends, and we helped start the Spruill Oaks Library Friends,” she said.
The Friends’ primary fundraiser is their used bookstore in a small cubbyhole in the library and its book sales. They will cart out 6,000 to 10,000 books for those big sales. They also contribute books to other Friends groups for them to sell.
Just recently, the Roswell Friends spent $10,000 for 24 new comfortable reading chairs. The Friends put 100 percent of all funds raised back into the library. They will fund summer reading programs and adult programs. They supplement the library collection by buying extra copies of popular books or books used in children’s discussion groups. They also buy the prizes given in the summer reading programs.
“We like to give the staff the extras that are not in the budget,” Puckett said.
The Friends will replace a computer keyboard or mouse rather than let a computer station remain idle. They have bought equipment such as a digital camera, an LCD projector and a laptop computer for the library.
Over the years, they have made improvements to the lobby and the grounds, including the brick pathways and benches in the shady center of the parking lot.
The Friends sponsor Roswell Reads, a community-wide reading event, as well as two monthly book clubs – Noonday Nosh and the Mystery Book Club – that meet at the library. Like all Friends’ programs, they are free and open to the public.
The group also sponsors the Atlanta Authors program, which has area writers talk about their work, English as a second language program and yoga classes among many others.
The group only has one annual meeting in May of the general membership of the Friends of the Roswell Library – these are worker bees – where a new director and board are introduced.
To get involved, residents can go to the Friends of the Roswell Library website and download a membership application. Annual dues are $15 or $25 for a family. Students are $5 and seniors are $10.