The most famous line from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams was “If you build it, he will come.” But since the movie became a box office hit, this classic line has been rewritten hundreds of times as: “If you build it, they will come.”
And that is exactly what happened on Monday, August 26, 2019, when the new Punta Gorda Charlotte Library opened its doors to the public. People were waiting in line to enter the building to see for themselves what the Friends had worked so long and hard for to bring to the community.
I had the privilege of already being inside the new library when the doors opened. A few of the bookstore volunteers and I were ready inside the Friends Bookstore to receive our long-time patrons as well as greet our first-time visitors.
While the volunteers were working in the bookstore, I spent a great deal of time being an unofficial tour guide of the new library. Although August is a slower month in our area, many of our regular patrons visited along with people who were coming to the library for the first time. The county library staff issued a lot of new library cards the first day to local residents who just never thought about using the library until they read the news stories and realized they wanted to be a part of what I call the “library family.” The biggest complaint the first day was that the new large parking lot was full all day! What a problem to have.
I was particularly pleased to speak with some long-time library patrons who told me they had not understood why so many people believed we needed a new library, but now that they were inside and saw all the improvements, they were delighted to have the new building.
Over the years there were some starts and stops to the planning and the building of the new library. Funding for a major project is always an issue and the Friends did what we could to help. The Friends contributed $50,000 to Charlotte County to help toward the cost of an enhanced exterior of the building. In April, the Friends Board approved $155,000 to pay to furnish the children, youth and teen areas as well as the new bookstore and office.
In return for our financial assistance, we requested the teen area be named for the late Mary Knowlton. During the first public input meeting in January of 2016, Mary raised the issue of ensuring that the teens have an area to call their own. While Mary had been a children’s librarian, she believed libraries should serve the entire population and had always felt like we failed the Punta Gorda teens in not providing a space for them at the library. Mary visited schools, talked with educators and created a blueprint for the what we needed to have in the new library for teens.
During the final public input meeting in August 2016, days before she died, Mary was delighted to see that the teens would have their own area in the new library.
The Friends want to thank the Charlotte County Commissioners for honoring our request to name the teen space the Mary Knowlton Teen Area. Hopefully, by the time you read this article, the bronze plaque honoring Mary will be installed on the wall as you enter the
Mary Knowlton Teen Area.
Our wonderful librarian, LeAnn Beckwith, submitted her resignation to the Charlotte County Library System effective July 16, 2019. LeAnn was our librarian for two years and all of us on the Friends Board respected her and liked working with her. LeAnn left the library system to take a position with the Southwest Florida Library Network as the Continuing Education Coordinator. Our library loss is SWFLN’s gain!
Although LeAnn is no longer with the Charlotte County Library system, she and her husband, Tony Farina, are now Friends Life Members and we were delighted for them to be with us at the ribbon cutting on September 5, 2019.
Long time Board Member, Luke Andreae, resigned due to work/family commitments. For several years, Luke coordinated the author programs that the Friends presented at the Punta Gorda Middle School for the sixth graders. It was always a treat to see how much the students enjoyed these programs. Luke continues to be a supporter of the Friends and is available for us to call on him when a need arises.
The Friends Board has elected Tony Farina as Director to fill the vacancy left by Luke’s resignation. Tony is a college writing instructor with an interest in expanding the love of creative writing. Tony is going to work with youth programing as well as write for the BOOKMARK. Tony also volunteers in the library and delivers books and keeps the FlyBrary shelves filled at the Punta Gorda Airport.
For many years the Punta Gorda Library was closed on Mondays. There were many in the community who remembered a time when the library was open on Mondays and wished for it to happen again. The new Punta Gorda Charlotte Library is now officially open Monday through Saturday. We are excited about this and thank the Charlotte County Library System for implementing this positive change. We hope all of you spread the word as our residents and visitors return.
In closing, I want to thank the many Friends members and community supporters who shared our dream of a new library in Punta Gorda. After all, we have seen: “If you build it, they will come.”
The Punta Gorda Charlotte Library was dedicated on September 5th in a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Commissioner Ken Doherty. In attendance were the Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library, the Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners, the City of Punta Gorda City Council, the construction contractor, Willis A. Smith, representatives of the architecture firm, Harvard Jolly Architecture as well as the director of Community Services and members of Library Administration. The 20,000 square foot library cost over seven million dollars, which was paid by the voter-approved 1% local option sales tax, the City of Punta Gorda also contributed over $275,000 as well as the land for the building. Additionally, the Friends contributed over $200,000. The Friends’ contribution paid for the enhanced exterior as well as the children’s area and the teen area. The teen area is named the Mary Knowlton Teen Area, in honor of Mary. The library space also includes two large meeting rooms, a large public computer station, study rooms, a Makerspace for 3D printing and archive space to house historical records.
Master Gardeners by Judi Beaumont, Friends Director
Whether you are a recent transplant, have lived in Florida for decades, or are a native Floridian, chances are if you are a gardener, you’ve encountered some challenges unique to gardening in our state. The Punta Gorda Charlotte Library (“Library”) has a partnership with the Charlotte County Master Gardeners Program (“CCMGP”) to provide those of us living in urban areas with current, accurate horticultural information through a monthly “Plant Clinic”.
The Library and the CCMGP have a partnership that has spanned several years. Some background on the origins of the CCMGP might be useful in understanding the educational value of the Library’s partnership for the community.
The Cooperative Extension Service (“Extension Service”), which is part of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (“UF/IFAS”), sponsors the Master Gardener Program in Florida. The CCMGP began in 1983 and has provided over 35 training courses to qualify folks as Master Gardeners. Over 100 individuals are currently active in the CCMGP. To maintain one’s status as a Master Gardener, one must make a commitment to continuing education programs to keep current with the latest educational information. The Master Gardener must also commit to giving 35 hours of volunteer service to the community each year.*
The CCMGP offers plant clinics to assist the public in diagnosing and solving gardening questions. All plant clinics are free. Basically, it is an information question and answer session with one or two Florida Master Gardeners on each second Wednesday of the month, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Bring your questions and the Master Gardener will either answer those questions immediately, based upon UF/IFAS recommendations, or, if he or she doesn’t know the answer, will find out for you. You can obtain written materials from the UF/IFAS Extension Service on a variety of topics. If soil or plant testing is needed the Master Gardener can explain the procedures and use the services for sending those materials to the UF testing laboratories. You are also encouraged to bring samples from problem plants or insects that need to be diagnosed and/or identified. In addition, you will be introduced to environmentally friendly horticultural products, the use of which is critical in our watery environment.
The Plant Clinic is just one of the many successful programs offered by the Punta Gorda Charlotte Li-brary. Please be sure to take advantage of this free educational opportunity to learn how to garden in our piece of paradise in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.
*Source: 2019 UF/IFAS Charlotte County Extension Service Master Gardener Sprouting Kit
A Community of Readers by Art Bruning, Friends Honorary Board Member
Punta Gorda is acknowledged to have an older population. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we are a community of such avid readers.
Most of us have been lifelong readers, but we are probably reading more now than ever before. One of the obvious reasons is that we now have more time for reading. It was hard to find leisure time when we were busy raising a family or making a living.
But I think we also enjoy reading even more than when we were younger. A very wise elementary school reading teacher taught that our task was more than teaching our children to recognize words, it was also to enrich their association with words. The word “mountain”, for example, means something far different to the child who has gone family camping in the mountains than it does to the child who has never left the block. One envisions the majesty of the scenery, recalls the fragrance of the forest and relives the excitement of adventure. The child who has never been there may see the mountain only as a really big hill.
We older readers are more like the child that has been to the mountains. We bring a lifetime of experiences to our reading. Good writing stirs our memories and brings the world of the author together with our own. Just as wine connoisseurs swirl the glass to enjoy the clarity and inhale the fragrance to fully appreciate the wine, we mature readers richly adorn the words and rejoice in the fullness of their expression.
The Works of Neil Gaiman by Tony Farina, Friends Director
When you come to the new library, soon there will be a plaque near the youth section that has a quote from British writer Neil Gaiman. The quote reads, “A book is a dream you hold in your hands.” We can all agree that there is beauty, poetry and most importantly, truth in that line. We could all agree this line could be at the front door of the library, but what not everyone realizes is that this quote is best placed in the youth section.
To explain, let me take you back to my teenage years. I was a sophomore in high school. I was a comic and science fiction geek and I still am. This was before it was cool to go to superhero movies. We geeks had our own world and we thought we understood what that world was like. However, in January of 1989, everything changed for us when DC Comics published a book created by a before unheralded writer called Neil Gaiman. The book was called The Sandman. The tag line was “Master of Dreams.”
Inside, I was plunged into a new kind of comic. There were regular folks doing mystical things. There were no spandex clad heroes in sight, but there was a story steeped in mythology. Unlike much of the comic books of the time, this was complex and it required my full attention. As the series went on, I followed the story of Morpheus AKA the Sandman or Dream and his extended family of the endless. They were called Destiny, Desire, Despair, Destruction, Death and Delirium (who used to be Delight, but happiness drove her mad). I was hooked.
In 1993, tales spread around comic shops that Neil was going to be treating a select few to a midnight reading of some of his non-comic based writing at a few comic conventions (cons) around the country. At that time, the internet was just a baby. Hardly anyone had access. We had to rely on flyers at the comic shops and advertising in Wizard Magazine. The Chicago Con was on the list. It seemed like Destiny was working his magic as I used to go to that con when I was young. It was four hours away from where I went to college. I made the drive. I was tired and did not have the money to spare, but I made the trip and it was glorious. Neil found another way to reach people. The master storyteller kept us all entertained and enthralled.
Since that time, Gaiman has written his way into all age groups. If you go into the Mary Knowlton Teen Area, you will find his collection of Sandman comics along with some other gems. If you wander into the Children’s room, you can look for his Newbery award winning tale for children, The Graveyard Book and the spooky yet delightful yarn Coraline. Head out in the stacks for adults and you will find American Gods and Norse Mythology. Go to the DVD section and pick up his fairy tale for adults, Stardust or his story about a girl who quits the circus to join real life, Mirror Mask. Of course, if you prefer it, you can log into your Hoopla account and find it all in one place.
Neil Gaiman is the bridge between children’s tales of heroism with clear distinctions between good and evil into the adult world where things are less clear, where motivations are not as obvious and subtext actually matters. Gaiman was my guide from young adulthood to adulthood. This generation has the pleasure of having him steer their ships from childhood. Regardless of how old you are, go into the library, spend some time with Neil, and hold a dream in your hands.
The New Friends Bookstore
Business Patron, Luke Andreae of the The Andreae Group, Re/Max Harbor Realty, has donated 2,000 shopping bags to the Friends Bookstore. These bags will be given to bookstore pa-trons when they ask for a bag for their purchases. The Friends appreciate Luke’s ongoing support.
The Friends Bookstore opened in 1999 and has been a continuing source of revenue for the Friends to use for their mission of providing financial support to the library. The new Friends Bookstore opened the same day as the new library and welcomes you to continue to support us by making a purchase as well as donating your good to new books and magazines.
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. We appreciate your support!
Friends of The Punta Gorda Charlotte Library 401 Shreve Street
Punta Gorda Florida 33950
The mission of the Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library is to promote awareness of, appreciation for, and use of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library. The greatest little secret in our area, hiding in plain sight, is THE LIBRARY. To view all its resources go to www.https://charlottefl.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/libraries .
Friends provide the library with vital funding, which may not otherwise be available, for increasing media collections, funding children, teen and adult programs, and procuring furniture and equipment.
Friends raise money through membership dues, special events and the Friends Bookstore. The Bookstore sells the recycled donations given by friends and patrons. Money is also received from donations given by individuals, businesses, non-profits and corporations.
Friends fund free music and drama programs in the new library and in community locations. Friends monies also support and expand children’s programs in STEM, Reading and the Arts.
On January 22, 2020 at the Isles Yacht Club, Friends will host the annual Literary Luncheon. The guest author will be Marie Benedict, a lawyer as well as a New York Times best-selling author. Friends members may reserve seating beginning October 17, 2019 and non-members beginning December 15, 2019.
Please become a Friend ! Annual memberships are January 1st through December 31st, (memberships dated after October 1, 2019 will be for the entire 2020 calendar year).
Thank You for your continued loyalty and support.