The Friends of the Summerland Library Society have been acknowledged in an unprecedented way. The Okanagan Regional Library recognized their efforts by having a feature wall built in the new library, honouring them.
For the past 16 years, not only have the FOSLS promoted literacy, but they have also been very vocal in advocating the community’s need for a larger library.
“Our group got political early on,” said Anne Carter. “We became advocates and sometimes zealots if you will.”
“The FOSLS did not let the decision makers forget that we didn’t have an adequate library,” Dorthea Atwater explained.
The society was founded in 1999. It has assisted the library financially by providing programs and events and purchasing items that were not funded by the ORL.
Over the years there have been around 40 people who have served on the board of directors.
“We stand on the shoulders of those predecessors,” said Carter. “When you come into this group, you catch on very early that you have been handed a legacy.”
Today, only two of the original founding members are still serving.
Pat Flett is the president and David Mallory is a director.
“All this time that we have been politically active, we have also tried to stay in the moment and support functions in the library,” said Flett. “We have tried to find a real balance.”
Programs the FOSLS supported include the Summer Reading Club and Family Literacy Day. They have hosted Author Night events, workshops, seminars and teas.
One special program they fund is called Books for Babies.
Carol Gyorgy, the society’s vice president coordinates the program.
She said materials are purchased and given to seamstresses in the community who then sew small bags.
Inside the bag is placed a soft covered book and a handcrafted hat or pair of booties made by local knitters.
Also included in the bag is a brochure that explains who the FOSLS are and lists the programs that the library offers for parents and children.
Every newborn child in Summerland receives a bag, with 50 to 100 bags being given out each year.
Community librarian Sue Kline said she often sees children who are now school aged, still coming to the library with their little book bags.
Carter, who serves as treasurer for the FOSLS, explained that three quarters of all the money that the society had received over the years was restrictive funding.
The money had been donated by patrons along with very specific instructions as to what it was to be used for and earmarked to go towards the building of a new library.
The other quarter of their finances were made up of unrestricted donations and money that the FOSLS themselves had earned through book sales, silent auctions and membership fees. The latter went towards funding programs and purchasing needed items.
The FOSLS currently have 100 members and are always wanting more people to join them.
From this membership comes the many volunteers who work behind the scenes to make things happen.
The FOSLS are a very forward looking group and they have no plans to slow down.
“Donations in kind are gratefully appreciated and whatever monies we receive it will further enhance the library,” said Flett.
“The Readers’ Terrace isn’t finished as it needs a sun canopy,” explained Peter Hay.
“There are a lot of unfinished things which, as we get money we will be able to fund.”
Carter explained that they want to keep the library current and focus on purchasing items that make it more interactive and credible to all the different age groups.
The one thing that the FOSLS all have in common is their passion for books and reading. It takes more than passion though, to keep a group together.
“We have all found our niche and we all play a role and we have so much fun together,” said Carter, “But it’s our shared spirit of friendship and community that has kept the group going through tough times.”
That spirit is encased in the new building and the dream of a bigger and better library for Summerland has now materialized for the FOSLS.
If you know a positive story about someone in our community, contact Carla McLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Summerland Review newsroom at 250-494-5406.