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Friends of Park Rapids Library celebrate 40 years

The volunteer, nonprofit organization not only raises money for additional library programming, new equipment and books, but also supports adult and children’s reading programs and other special events.

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Friends of Park Rapids Library gathered Oct. 25 for the club's 40th anniverary. Front, from left, are Diane George, Shirley Lingle, Dolores Olson, Gail Gruis, Sandy Drury and Annamae Holzworth. Back row: Jan Herbert, Jen Geraedts and Florence Hedeen.

Eighteen charter members founded Friends of the Park Rapids Library (FOL) in 1981.

The volunteer, nonprofit organization not only raises money for additional library programming, new equipment and books, but also supports adult and children’s reading programs and other special events.

Founders were JoAnn Benjamin, Sandy Drury, Colleen Elkington, Betty Fuller, Gail Gruis, Cathy Hanson, Margaret Harding, Florence Hedeen, Kathy Heuer, Dorothy Hurd, Dave Long, Jan Long, Judy Merritt, Eleanor Olson, Mark Schurmann, Linda Smith, Donna Walsh and Blythe Wyard.

Current and past FOL members gathered Wednesday, Oct. 27 at the library to celebrate the chapter’s 40th anniversary. October is also national Friends of the Library Month.

Gruis, a retired Park Rapids librarian, recalled that FOL formed in an effort to move the library from the Carnegie building to a larger space. “We were beginning to think that we needed to have a bigger building, but we needed a group to organize and get things moving,” she said.

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“I love it,” Drury said of FOL. She’s one of the few charter members who remain active.

FOL encourages parents to read to their children by giving a book bundle to newborns upon their arrival at the hospital.

Branch manager Jodi Schultz said that when she joined the library, FOL welcomed her and offered to support the library where needed.

“They have been working tirelessly for 40 years, and that’s taken different forms throughout the years, but one thing that has continued the entire time, except when interrupted by the pandemic, is the four-times a year book sales and all the proceeds go to the library,” she said.

Drury said the book sales remain the largest fundraiser for the public library.

FOL meets the first Thursday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at the library. New members and guests are welcome. Membership is $10 for a single person or $20 for a family. The annual dues are tax deductible.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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