Have A Heart for Books

by Karen Coney Coplin

Karen Coney CoplinThe Friends of the Library of Collier County, Inc. supports and enhances the free public library system in Naples and Collier County.

The organization does this in numerous ways including making contributions to childhood developmental reading program supplies for the youngest residents of Naples and, adult literacy program needs are not overlooked, either. The Friends’ efforts are designed to promote educational, technological, and recreational pursuits of those visiting the Collier County Public Library branches.

The organization, which has been active in Naples for over fifty years, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation in which membership dues and donations are tax deductible. Though I knew of many of the services overseen and provided by this group, I didn’t know some fun, interesting, and yes, impressive facts: The Central Avenue library is leased to Collier County for $1/year by this group, which owns the land upon which the library sits (it was donated by the Ferdinand Lee family in 1963 for this purpose).

This organization is a powerhouse of committed individuals, which has donated over $2M to library needs over the last decade.

You can assist this organization’s mission by becoming a member and supporter. The Friends of the Library of Collier County, Inc. are based at 650 Central Avenue, Naples. The Naples Regional Library can be reached at 239.262.8135. Hours are 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The website address is: Collier-friends.org, and questions can be directed to psherry@collier-friends.org. The public is invited to attend monthly by heart to heart meetings, the next being held on December 14, from 2 – 4 p.m. in the Mackworth G. Rees meeting room in the Naples Regional Library.

This group hosts numerous popular events including the Nick Linn Lecture Series, forthcoming in 2014 on various dates Feb. 3, March 3, March 31, and April 7 at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort. This is a luncheon beginning at noon with noted authors such as Linda Fairstein, among others, speaking at 1 p.m. As with other programs, fundraising from events such as this or the “Bagels & Book Clubs” breakfasts allow the group to play a significant, sustaining role in expanding the horizons of children in Naples and Collier County, their families, residents, and visitors to this area.

The Friends also support the visual arts and offer artist’s opportunities with shows in the West Wing Gallery on Central Avenue. Monthly shows present dynamic two dimensional montages of various artists’ works. In addition to these exhibits, the Friends purchase artwork for children’s library spaces, too.

One artist has returned the favor – year after year – by pledging donations to the Friends from the sale of the Naples Calendar, available at the Central Avenue library. John Bartoldus created the Naples calendar in 1988 and, in 1992, began selling the calendars in the library with a portion of all sales going directly to The Friends of the Library. His instantly recognizable artwork recreates classic Naples scenes including vintage cottages, the Pier and beach, among other favorites. Purchasers of the Naples calendar receive a useful, updated local restaurant guide.

Visit your local library and consider joining Friends as an early New Year’s resolution to support the love of reading, learning and more, as part of your Life in Naples. (For the first dozen readers who become Friends members for the upcoming year, I offer a complimentary 2014 Naples Calendar to thank you for your commitment. Email me at NaplesKCC@gmail.com after you’ve signed up. Otherwise, calendars are on sale now and support this organization’s many worthwhile goals.

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