Carnegie Library, Hamburg Library supported by Friends

Carnegie Library, Hamburg Library supported by Friends

LIVINGSTON COUNTY — You’ve probably heard of book sales and fundraisers at your local library, but did you know there’s usually a separate group behind them?

Most book lovers in Livingston County benefit from the “Friends of the Library” — from Hamburg Township to Howell to Brighton.

For example, the Friends of Hamburg Township Library Foundation handles all fundraising for the library.

“The Friends are just amazing,” said library director Holly Hentz. “For special events, projects, things that we don’t have a specific budget for, the Friends are there to support us.”

The Friends manage the library gardens, organize volunteers, and advocate. They hold book sales in the spring and fall and operate the library gift shop, which contributes to the library’s monthly income.

“We help out wherever we’re needed and we always enjoy our time here,” said group secretary Debbie Kooperman. “We love our library.”

Now more than ever, libraries are expanding beyond books. The Hamburg Township Library offers study spaces, proctoring services, and a “Library of Things,” with items like board games, sewing machines, and binoculars.

Hentz said the library is also a community center, providing a cool place during hot weather and a place for people to gather. Several groups and clubs meet at the library, including those who do embroidery, knitting and chess.

“Public libraries are much more than just a place for books,” Hentz said. “We have many other services.”

The Carnegie Library

Estelle Kirby, a member of the Friends of the Howell Carnegie District Library, enjoys volunteering with the group after her retirement.

“We love our library and we love putting in the time,” Kirby said. “We love the work. We love being around the books. We love being around the people who come to read the books and buy the books.”

Kirby said the job helps her stay physically active, moving and organizing her things.

“There’s nothing like moving boxes of books around. You’re bending, stretching, putting books on shelves,” Kirby said. “I think it’s the fountain of youth to physically engage with these books and mentally continue the educational aspects of always reading.”

Kirby said many of the volunteers are retired teachers who have a passion for books and enjoy talking to each other and recommending new books.

“I’ve always been a reader, and now that I’m retired, this is the best thing I’ve ever found in retirement,” Kirby said. “I’m surrounded by books … and by people who, like me, love books.”

The Friends of the Howell Carnegie District Library hosts bimonthly book sales (October through June) and an annual five-day sale during the Howell Melon Fest in August.

Donations are collected by appointment throughout the year, with a limit of three boxes per trip.

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Kirby said the group has funded several items for the library, including new chairs, self-checkout machines, computers and supplies for the children’s department.

During the pandemic, members donated $10,000 to help the library offer additional online resources.

“That’s our function,” Kirby said. “We’re there to support.”

“The Book Room” at the Carnegie Library is organized and run by Kirby and the Friends. It is a continuous used bookstore. Most books range in price from 25 cents for children’s books to $3.50 for new editions.

Interested in becoming a friend? Visit friendsofhtl.org or howelllibrary.org/friends-of-the-library to get started.

— Madeline Warren is a freelance writer for The Livingston Daily. Contact the newsroom at [email protected].