Like many libraries across the county, Curry Public Library has a “Friends of the Library” group that plays the role of advocate, fundraiser, grant writer, and advisor to the library. In 1989, thirteen dedicated library supporters* decided it was time to form the Friends of the Curry Public Library (FOCPL) and incorporate as a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization. The mission of the organization is “to promote public awareness of the library, its resources, and its programs, in an effort to increase the use of the library and all its offerings.”
*Janet Bugni, Alan McGuiness, Emilie Killian, Jerry Killian, Ann Conlee-Brower, H.E. Mc Swain, Elsie Puntenney, Patricia Renner, Michael Meszaros, Lucille Pendergast, Jane Newhouse, Connie Ronayne, and Cathy Vesper-Wilson.
During that first year of operations, the Friends hosted their first book sale, an annual tradition that continues to this day. In July of 1990, the Friends opened a book store in the basement of the library where patrons could order new books or purchase used books. The book store was open several days a week for limited hours, staffed by Friends’ volunteers, and continued operating for over five years.
In 1991, all the libraries (public and school) in Curry County benefited when two FOCPL members, Pat Renner and Cathy Vesper Wilson, researched, applied for, and received a Federal grant of $46,000 from the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA). The grant was used to purchase a database software program to convert card catalogs to a networked digital format for all the participating libraries. Each of the libraries was required by the grant to contribute $1,000, and FOCPL paid Curry Public Library’s matching funds requirement.
That same year, these two women (Pat and Cathy) wrote and received a $24,000 grant from Meyer Memorial Trust for the purchase of fax machines for all the libraries in the county.
In 1982, Curry Public Library became a Special District, but was still under the largesse of Curry County for funding. In 1992, the Friends campaigned tirelessly to pass a permanent tax rate of $0. 6609 per $1,000 assessed value for the library, and, with the support of the Gold Beach community, were instrumental in getting the ballot measure passed. This sustainable income insured the library would remain viable long into the future, and put an end to the roller coaster funding that had plagued the library since its inception.
From 1993 through 2000, the Friends continued having an annual book sale and published a quarterly newsletter from 1996-2000. Beginning in 1995, this group of visionaries encouraged the Curry Public Library Board of Directors to plan and set aside funds annually for the construction of a new library.
In the years 2000-2003, the Friends took a hiatus. All willing members had served at least one term as president or secretary. There was no one who would step up to the plate to serve another term.
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