It’s wonderful to see our library open again and patrons using the resources in person as well as continuing to use the curbside service! In this issue, we introduce our new Librarian Supervisor, Jonathan Westbrook, who has been working hard to keep the library operating and getting to know the staff and patrons.
The Friends board has remained active throughout these last few months. As with all organizations, we have had to change the way we operate and make some changes to our events. Our work has switched to be more “behind the scenes” and we have met electronically instead of in person in order to make decisions. Sadly, the Friends will not be able to host our annual Literary Luncheon at the beginning of 2021 as we have done in the past. The luncheon has not been cancelled, but postponed until later in the year as we work with authors and vendors to safely provide this popular program again. We will keep everyone updated.
There was a meeting held of the Centennial Partners in July, led by Charlotte County Communications Manager Brian Gleason and Community Services Director, Tommy Scott in order to inform community organizations of the Charlotte County centennial coming up in 2021. There will be a proclamation made on December 8, 2020 in order to introduce this milestone and the county will continue to highlight the centennial in quarterly events such as a fishing tournament and a motorcycle run. There will even be a centennial hibiscus developed by Harry Goulding, “Mr. Hibiscus”. Plans are also in the works for a formal Centennial Ball, to be held at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center on April 23rd, Charlotte County’s actual centennial date. Look throughout the county for markers and flags, bearing the centennial seal including in issues of The BOOKMARK. I invite you to explore the centennial website (CharlotteCounty100.com) and Facebook page where community partners post announcements of their events and photos so you don’t miss anything.
Membership Dues Waived in 2021
Due to the extraordinary times we are in, the Friends board made the decision to waive the 2021 annual membership dues as well as business patrons membership dues. The annual membership year runs from January through the end of December. We will keep our 2020 membership lists in place and all of you who are currently members will continue as members in good standing in 2021. We appreciate your support. Donations are still accepted and appreciated. Checks can be mailed to:
Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library
401 Shreve St.
Punta Gorda FL 33950
Hello everyone. First, I would like to introduce myself. I am Jonathan Westbrook. I am the new Supervisor at the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library. I am a new Florida resident, too. I moved here from Pineville, LA, and had worked for the Rapides Parish Library for 15 years. I started off as a Reference Specialist, then worked my way up to Assistant Manager and then Interim Manager. I had my eyes on full Manager when two days after my interview, my brother-in-law came in and said, “I have a job offer in Florida.” After a short family discussion and some family prayer time, we decided this is the right thing for us. So, my brother-in-law, sister, 14-year-old niece and I moved to Cape Coral. A few months later, my 20-year-old niece followed to take a work/study program at Disney.
My first day on the job at Punta Gorda Charlotte was the first day they closed the doors. So, I have had the great pleasure of being able to meet and work with the staff directly and without interruption. Blending together a new and old staff with a new supervisor is difficult under normal times but COVID-19 has granted us a great benefit.
During this time, we have been weeding books from the collection that have not checked out in over 3 years and those that were worn out. We have worked to get all the authors in the same place in the collection so no more hunting around for the same author. We shifted and shelved to make room for growth in the collection and prepare for the future.
Our second week of closure saw the creation of our curbside delivery system and I am proud to say we have delivered items to over 11,600 people from March to September, so far. (bragging rights: that is more than 1000 more than Mid County) Our Children’s Librarian, Elizabeth Lee, with other members of staff, have been contributing lots of virtual programs on the Facebook page. They have been very well-attended and watched. We can expect this to be a feature of the future, both in-person and on-line programming.
Sadly, we also have had to make the library CDC rules compliant and removed much of the furniture and shifted some things around. We all hope this is all just long-term temporary, so everything is just stored at the moment.
On 8th of September, we opened back up with limited hours and limited services. If you visit us during this time, we have interfiled the new fiction into the collection to prevent many people congregating in one place and prevent them from not following the 6 ft rule. We have left the ‘new’ stickers on so as you will find what is new. This gives you a great chance to browse and perhaps find a new favorite you might have missed over time. We offer only laptop checkout since we removed all the desktop computers from the public area. This is our exciting and patron self-driven future and a great time to just cut and walk boldly into a new way to do things. We are offering free printing and copying of black and white right now too. Self-checkout is where we are gently pushing people to limit contact as much as possible. I have been surprised how many of our patrons on our first day politely told me “I can do this.”. Then ushered me away. We hope to encourage many more to take the same self-empowering attitude.
I hope to see all of you visit us as soon as you are comfortable to do so.
I am excited and honored to be working in this new beautiful building with a long history of community support and working with a strong Friends group. I look forward to working with you and building a long future together.
The Friends bookstore remains closed at this time. This decision is based on our goal to keep all volunteers and all patrons safe in a confined space. The volunteers miss working in the bookstore and the patrons miss being able to browse, shop and donate. Thank you for your understanding, interest and support. Please keep your donations and bring them to us once the bookstore reopens.
Way back in February, when we had no idea what was going to happen to the world, The Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library, with the help of a generous donation from the Shively Foundation, brought Johnathan Rand, children’s writer and storyteller to the Punta Gorda Middle School.
Rand, a slender giant of a man, wore sunglasses that had holographic eyes on the lenses, stood before the entire 6th grade class in the gym and captivated them for an hour. He started by telling them; “Reading isn’t something you do; it’s a place you go. Books don’t have covers; they have doors.”
He regaled them of his times in college when he, because of his excellent writing skills, was asked to go to a concert and write a review for his favorite band AC/DC. He told them about his time writing commercials and how he turned those seemingly boring ads into tall tales and stories. When the kids started to get fidgety, he brought down volunteers from the crowd and had them practice their loudest and scariest scream as he told them how to write scary stories.
Finally, just before his time was over, he described how, just that morning, before he drove from Ft. Myers to the middle school, he took a bike ride through Africa. Of course, they found that story impossible. He proved himself right when he described each turn around a mountain pass and detailed the heat and wind. Hundreds of 6th grades sat silently as he recounted the hour he spent reading a book about a man who rode his bike across the Dark Continent. He ended with his mantra, having just proven his point: Reading isn’t something you do; it is a place you go. Books don’t have covers; they have doors. Every kid and most of the teachers shouted those lines back to him right before they gave him a standing ovation.
Afterward, Mr. Rand joined 20 students, each of whom wrote an essay explaining why he or she wanted to join his workshop. They spent an hour in the library coming up with a new plot for his American Chillers series. The students laughed, cheered, and wrote furiously. They all left with a notebook and pen courtesy of the Friends filled with the beginning of a story that will inspire them to create their own creative journeys for years to come.
The Punta Gorda Friends of the Library can receive a small percentage of your purchases from Amazon through Amazon Smile. Participation in this program does not add anything to your bill; Amazon will just donate 0.5% of your purchases to the Friends. To participate, simply go to http://smile.amazon.com/ and make your purchases as usual. You will even be able to see how much of your purchases have been donated.
As Good as Gold, by Katie Mazzi, Bookstore Manager
The Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library were scheduled to host the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on March 30, 2020 at Twin Isles County Club. The theme was “Our Volunteers Are As Good As Gold.”
While everyone understood that the Friends had to cancel the luncheon because of COVID-19; we were disappointed we weren’t able to gather together and celebrate the many hours of service the volunteers provided to the library. Part of the 2019 volunteer hours were at the old location on Henry Street prior to moving to the new library on August 26, 2019. This would have been our first luncheon to celebrate all that we did to contribute financially to the building and furnishing of the new library.
The Friends Bookstore opened at the Henry Street location on September 13, 1999. It was originally just a few books in the corner of the foyer before being expanded to the room just inside the front door. The bookstore has always been staffed by volunteers. The first volunteer Bookstore Manager was Nancy Vuic, who was followed by Sara Benson, Sarah Davis, Diane Strandberg and Sue Galvin. I have been managing the bookstore for the last five years.
From the very beginning, Nancy Vuic and 19 volunteers donated their time to make our bookstore a place where our patrons enjoyed shopping and donating. I currently work with 30 volunteers who bring the same love of books and desire to help the Friends contribute financially to the library for programs, materials and other needed resources.
In addition to volunteering in the Friends bookstore, there are many volunteers who help in the library. They shelve books, call patrons when holds are ready to be picked up and help the library staff as needed. Volunteers enjoy helping patrons who seem lost or looking for something in the library.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has brought a halt to people being able to volunteer in the bookstore and library.
Although the library is open with limited hours, social distancing requirements and health and safety guidelines prevent volunteers from being in the library. In addition, the bookstore remains closed to ensure the safety of the volunteers and patrons in the confined space. We know that the volunteers miss being in the library and will return when it is deemed safe to do so. Training of new volunteers is also on hold until we are fully open and work safely.
We may not have shared a meal together and celebrated all that we accomplished in 2019, but the Friends board wants to thank everyone who volunteers at the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library.
Our volunteers are as good as gold!
In Memoriam: Gail Glover
The Friends would like to dedicate this page to Gail Glover, a soft-spoken, committed lady whose years of volunteering helped the library patrons, staff and community. Gail worked at the library for many years preparing materials for pick-ups, calling patrons to advise them that their materials were ready and other necessary clerical tasks. Her work made it possible for the library staff to more efficiently prepare and distribute materials and serve patrons quickly, which ultimately made the library run smoother, especially in the busy season.
She and her husband Scott were both former employees of ExxonMobil. To encourage volunteerism, ExxonMobil made contributions to non-profit, civic or cultural organizations to whom employees contributed time as a volunteer. As a result of Gail’s steadfast volunteering at the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library, the Friends of the Library received thousands of dollars in contributions, which were used to fund various programs for both youth and adults. The Friends, along with the library community appreciate Gail and are thankful for her dedication.
Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library Celebration Reception
On March 7, 2020, the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library hosted an evening Celebration reception at the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library. All members of the Friends were invited along with city and county officials and the Friends’ business patrons. This was an opportunity for the board to thank everyone for their support over the years as we worked toward the goal of a new library in Punta Gorda. Over 200 people attended this delightful night.
The sponsors of the Celebration were: Luke Andreae of The Andreae Group, F.M. Don’s, the Far Law Firm, Landsberg Bennett Private Wealth Management, and the Punta Gorda Garden Club, who provided the center-pieces. Catering was provided by F.M. Don’s and wine and beer were served. Additionally, music was performed by keyboardist and singer, Rita Beach. Board members were present throughout the night to greet attendees, answer questions about the Friends and serve as bartenders. Libraries and Historical Division Manager Lanette Hart and Regional Librarian Terri Crawford were also available to answer any questions about the facilities or library programs. The Friends’ bookstore was open and some people found some books they liked.
Attendees told members of the Friends board how much they enjoyed themselves and how impressed they were with the library. Thank you to all who attended and know that we appreciate your support!
Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library Historic Mural
The latest addition to the 29 historic murals completed by the Punta Gorda Historical Mural Society is named “Pages from Our Library’s Past” and appears on the new Punta Gorda Charlotte Library. The mural was completed and dedicated on July 14, 2020, and the Friends are proud to be one of the sponsors. The mural is painted on the arch facing Shreve Street and contains depictions of the buildings that housed the library in the past as well as children using library resources, representing the future. If you look closely, you will see specific book titles, which were sponsored by individuals and groups, and even butterflies taken from the historic Charlotte Scarborough Taylor workbook, making this mural a community effort.
This newsletter, The BOOKMARK, is usually mailed out 4 times a year to Friends members. This is the most important way we have of keeping you informed and in the know! It is mailed using a USPS non-profit mail permit, which is beneficial with the reduced postage rate. The drawback is that the BOOKMARK is not forwarded . Please let us know if you have moved or will be moving. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friends of the Library Business Patrons
Share this information with your business friends and encourage them to become a Friends Business Patron.
Amberg Insurance Center
Andreae Group at ReMax Harbor Realty
Animal Medical Clinic of Punta Gorda
Avant Construction, Inc.
Bayfront Health Punta Gorda/Pt. Charlotte
Bohall’s Total Comfort, Inc.
Chapman Insurance Group
Charlotte State Bank & Trust
Comfort Keepers of Port Charlotte
Don Gasgarth’s Charlotte County Ford
Farr, Farr, Emerich, Hackett, Carr & Holmes, P.A.
Florida Cancer Specialists
GFWC – Punta Gorda Woman’s Club, Inc.
Gould Family Trust
Graddy Insurance Group
Gulf Island Sails, LLC
Hometown Title & Closing Services
Isles Yacht Club
Jeffrey Joffe, DMD, P.A.
Jim Koinis, Edward Jones Investments
Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute
Landsberg Bennett Private Wealth Management
McCrory Law Firm
Mike Martin Agency-State Farm Ins. Punta Gorda
Nix & Associates Real Estate LLC
Nolan Family Insurance
Olsen, Lynch & Wright, CPAs, P.A.
Phil’s 41 Restaurant
Presley Beane Financial Services
Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce
Punta Gorda Downtown Merchants Assoc.
Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association
Punta Gorda Symphony
Rivera Professional Plaza
Sanchez, George DMD
SandStar Homes, LLC/SandStar Remodeling
Towles Corp. of SW Florida
Twin Isles Country Club
Village Fish Market & Restaurant
Webb, Lorah & McMillan, PLLC
LIFETIME MEMBER: MARIANNE LILLY, RE/MAX HARBOR REALTY