Dear Friends,

I wonder how long it’s going to take before we stop referring to the recently completed building as the “new library?” Will we ever just call it the library? Every day we have long time patrons who have just returned from being away stop in and visit. Plus, more and more community members who never went to the “old” library are coming in to see the lovely new building for themselves. I spend a lot of time in the Friends Bookstore and, if other volunteers are working, I will take the time to walk these “first timers” through the library. I love hearing all the positive comments about the “new library.”

As with anything new, there are some building features which have generated complaints. One issue has been shared by many and that is the lack of automatic door openers on the substantial and heavy doors into the library. Entering and leaving the building has posed a hardship for many including those with canes, walkers, carrying a load of books, pushing a baby stroller or simply not having the strength to push open the doors. I wrote to Charlotte County on behalf of the Friends and library patrons and expressed concerns for what I saw as a safety issue as well as a disregard for those with disability issues. In addition, many patrons spoke to the library staff and filled out our County Comment cards. The Friends Board has been informed by County Library Administration that corrective action is being taken and the automatic door openers will be installed. I now choose to focus on the solution rather than continue to ask how a new building that serves the public could be built without the automatic door openers.

By the way, I still don’t know what is going to happen to the old library building. The final decision will be made by the Charlotte County Commissioners. I just know I am very happy to be in our lovely new facility.

I encourage you to stop by the information desk to pick up a County Comment card and fill it out if you want to raise an issue of concern or offer a compliment or make a request. Take time to review the monthly calendar and take advantage of the many programs being planned in the library. As the county officials look at budgets for staffing and keeping the library open, we need to show that the library is being used! Make sure you let our returning patrons and visitors know that for the first time in many years, the library is open on Mondays.

I want to welcome Bill Albers, Berna Goldberg and Geri Saunders to the 2020 Friends Board. I also want to thank Teresa Jenkins and Art Bruning for their years of dedicated service to the Friends as they leave the Board. We continue to have Board members who give their time and commitment to fulfill the mission of the Friends. My thanks to all.

I am now coming to a very personal moment in what will be my final column as the Friends President. Before sitting down to write this column; I went back and reviewed the December 2013/January 2014 issue of the BOOKMARK. The front page had a column from outgoing President Mary Knowlton and a column from me as the incoming President. Mary stated, “It is time for me to turn over the duties of the President of the Friends to outstanding president-elect, Katie Mazzi. Katie and I have worked closely together this past year. She brings a skill set of organization and a passion for libraries, second to none. Welcome to your new leadership role, Katie.”

I had forgotten what Mary had written and today her words have an extra special meaning for me. I had been ready to step down as President after two years in office, but I stayed on in this role to fulfill Mary’s dream of a new library in Punta Gorda. I have been able to accomplish this with a dedicated group of Board Members and the community support. Thank you.

And now as 2020 begins, it is time for me pass on the duties of the Friends President to outstanding President-elect Minerva King. Minerva is eminently qualified to assume the role as President. She is an educator with a love of libraries and learning. She is the editor of the BOOKMARK and has been secretary of the Friends Board. Minerva will continue the Friends’ mission of being a community advocate for the library as well as ensure there is financial support for library programing, collections and other areas where county funding is inadequate.

Although I will no longer serve on the Friends Board, I am being given the opportunity to continue as the Friends Bookstore Manager. I will always be available to help as needed and you will still find me in the library.

As the year comes to a close, I want to thank everyone for a allowing me to be of service to the Friends Board and our library community. I have made wonderful friends and been a part of a group of people that I may not have known without the common bond of loving libraries.

Mary ended her last President’s column with a quote I will also use to conclude this, my final column. May we all find the peace she wanted for us during the holiday season and beyond.

“I hope we will all take time to apply the words of Sonia Riccotti, “Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be.””

See you around the library,