2012-09-20 / Front Page

Group ends 23-year run

Friends of the Library decides to call it quits, donates last funds

MANISTIQUE – The Friends of the Library have officially disbanded – presenting the Manistique Board of Education with their final fundraising earnings Monday. The group had been supporting the Manistique Public Library for over 23 years.

According to Lucia Leonardelli, one of the group’s representatives, the Friends of the Library was originally formed to raise money for the library and support its functions through donated time.

“In its original incarnation, the volunteers that were part of the Friends of the Library group would come in and help shelve books, process new books coming into the library, and many other functions like that,” she said.

Several factors have contributed to the group’s decision to call it quits after decades of service to the library – dwindling membership and the recent passage of a county-wide millage to support the library. Leonardelli explained the group only had 10 members in its final days – some of whom were only seasonal.

“In order to do the many things we were trying to do, with the book store and also the sidewalk sale, it just got to the point where there were two or three members every month who were here helping,” she said.

After the Manistique Public Library sought and obtained a millage in 2010, Leonardelli noted the group’s purpose was further reduced. She explained that the group estimates the library will now be receiving approximately $100,000 a year from county residents.

“Even though we were raising thousands of dollars, it’s nowhere near that kind of money,” she said. “With that much extra money per year, we knew that the collection should be growing dramatically in both quality and quantity every year and felt that we were not adding that much to that particular function.”

The group was also not being asked to help in the library, explained Leonardelli, removing the last of the mainstays of the group.

“Those things were instrumental in helping us make the decision that we were going to disband,” she said. “It’s not been a lightly made or quickly made decision.”

In August, the group held its final sidewalk book sale, bringing in $3,000. They decided to split this between the public library and the library at Emerald Elementary, $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. The $2,000 will be split between the purchase of book and e-books, explained Leonardelli, and the $1,000 would be used “to enhance their (Emerald’s) library collection, which, at this point, is really tiny for a school of that size,” she said.

“Their goal of creating a ‘culture of reading’ in that building is something we would really like to support,” she added. “We really feel like, if we can transform the children of this community into involved, active readers, in years to come, the public will still be using a library and still be active readers.”

In other business, the board officially hired two new teachers and one new bus driver, all of which have been working since the beginning of the school year. According to Superintendent Kathy McDonough, the two teachers were hired after the Aug. 30 resignation of Jeanne Verbrigghe, the district’s speech and language therapist.

“I know for a fact this wasn’t an easy decision, but I certainly understand,” McDonough explained.

Laura Ceccarelli and Julie Johnson were recommended for hire following interviews of three candidates by a committee of teachers, one board member, and an administrator, she said.

Johnson will fill the special education part-time position at Emerald, McDonough explained, and will spend the rest of her day with the multi-tiered system of support. Current teacher Linda Levin will fill in the other half of Johnson’s duties.

Ceccarelli will fill a middle school special education position. Don Davidson was recommended for hire as a bus driver.

The board unanimously approved all three hires.

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