2005 Barbara Kingsolver Award Winner
Friends of the Fernandina (FL) Public Library
Congratulations to Friends of the Fernandina Beach (FL) Library, winners of the 2005 Barbara Kingsolver Award, sponsored by HarperCollins. The winning entry was titled “2005 a Wild Ride . . . Hold on to Your Hats!” and what a truly wild ride it was! To begin with, newly recruited vice-president Donna Paz Kaufman was set for a year of learning and ramping up prior to taking on the presidency in the future. That ramp turned out not to be a year long - but immediate.
The president resigned and another newly recruited board member was diagnosed with cancer. The group was in disarray, membership was stagnant, and remaining board members were burnt out. Could this group survive?
Luckily, they decided they had to. As it happened, the County Commissioners had already cut the library's book budget by 75% from 2002-2003 level and they were set to develop the new budget - there was no optimism that the library would come out of the process with restored funding. The Fernandina Beach Friends knew they had important work to do.
Their first objective was to raise their profile in the community to encourage membership and gain clout. They did this through the design and production of gift items with the new Friends logo, a series of columns in the local paper touching on important library issues such as the Patriot Act, freedom of speech, and the value of library services. The Friends engaged in a variety of high-profile community events and programs and worked with other organizations to create even greater awareness about the library and the Friends.
Perhaps most important of all, a band of Friends sporting “I Love Libraries” stickers began to attend Commission meetings on a regular basis. The result of their efforts?
Membership flourished (tripling their numbers in one year), significant new money was raised for the library, a new board was recruited, morale and spirit was revived, and the County Commissioners approved a new library budget that fully restores the book budget!
Congratulations to the Fernandina Beach Friends of the Library for a terrific year!
Pictured above right, Donna Paz Kaufman (right) of the Friends of the Library, Fernandina Beach (FL) accepts the 2005 Kingsolver Award from Virginia Stanley (center) of HarperCollins Publishers and FOLUSA Treasurer Amy Dougherty (left).