Friends of the Library celebrating 40th anniversary


The Baxter County Friends of the Library is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The Friends group was established in September of 1980. The original 15 members organized in order to provide much-needed funding to the library, and 40 years later, the Friends have kept that dream alive, raising over $620,000 to date.The goal of the Friends is to aid in developing public interest and understanding of the library and its needs, as well as exchange information and knowledge between the Friends, community organizations and the general public. It also aims to help promote and finance the library with donations, sponsor discussion groups, and guest speakers/presenters and assist with children’s programs — among many other things.

“The Friends are a wonderful, giving, and caring group of people,” says Jo Belle Zimmerman, vice president and an original founding member of the Friends. “We are an enthusiastic bunch who love coming to the library and want to support it for years to come. I have been serving as a member of the Friends for 40 years, and I am determined to help out however I can even into the future.”

The library persists as a thriving community resource in Baxter County thanks to the support of the Friends of the Library. Friends provide funds not otherwise available to the library through its membership dues, special contributions, annual auctions and used book sales. Friends also provides the library staff with advanced training, education and appreciation awards for their fine effort to keep the library a “state of the art” facility and source of pride in Baxter County. The members donate their time and hard work for various programs and services and encourage gifts of books and materials to the library.

Friends of the Library President Nealus Wheeler says, “The library has been a wonderful and great place to be a part of in this community. The Friends of the Library are proud to support this exceptional Library, and the dedication of the staff goes beyond normal to extraordinary.”

Neal has been a member of the Friends for the past 15 years, which happened almost by accident. “In 2004, my wife and I moved to the area, and after updating our driver’s licenses, we immediately went to the library to get our library cards. I heard about a Friends of the Library meeting and decided to go, where I then found out that the group needed help with setting up for the used book sale. Eventually, I was left in charge of setting up the sale, and I’ve been doing it ever since.” Since joining the Friends, he has served as president for the past six years and has plans to serve another two-year term.

The Baxter County Library is thankful for the Friends and the dedication of the members in supporting the library for the past 40 years and for their perseverance into the future.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Friends of the Library, visit the library and ask for a membership form at the Information Desk. Membership dues are $5 a year. For more information, contact Nealus Wheeler, president of the Friends of the Library at 870-491-5114.

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