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Fall 2023 Member Update
Art on the Green Book Sale Results, A Major Project Announcement & More
Fall brings cooler weather for cozying up (with a book), shorter days and longer nights (for reading) and a pivot toward the season of holidays, family, friends and, always, books. Please enjoy a few updates on what the organization has been up to, and a few unique opportunities to get involved in coming months.
I want to thank everyone who volunteered at our suddenly-doubled Book Sale at Art on the Green this past Saturday and at the Library a week prior, and especially Book Sales co-chairs Susan Swansburg and Robert Wingle, and member Jenn Ramsdell, whose first selection of raffle baskets were a huge hit.
There is a bit more detail in the ‘Fundraisers Recap’ below but, taken together as our ‘Fall Sale’ for 2023, these events raised over $2800 in support of our mission! And with another big Book Sale coming up in December at the library’s Winter Festival & Market, this puts us on track to have the best year of fundraising in the history of this organization.
We have serious plans for the funds we’re raising, too. Read on for an update about what the Friends are supporting, including a special announcement about a BIG project the Board has decided to pursue.
And please have a wonderful week.
Friends to Begin Capital Campaign to Improve the Library’s Rear Garden!
New Castle Public Library has a beautiful back garden (see below). It is peaceful, replete with wildflowers, and has become an increasingly popular venue for programs and events. (We also love the new garden beds recently added by staff members along the outer wall!) What the garden is not, however, is especially spacious, due to the large wildflower bed/drainage area at its center and the steep surrounding ground, or usable by patrons with mobility-affecting disabilities.
At its meeting held on September 13, NCLF board members decided to pursue the addition of a large, wheelchair-accessible deck to the garden, which would cover over the drainage area currently hidden by wildflowers and vastly increase the usable area of the garden for programs and events. This follows over a year of discussing the potential project and a recent application for state grant funds to potentially cover half of the costs.
Despite learning that that application was unfortunately turned down, the Board committed to the project, setting aside $10,000 of our current funds for it, and decided to dedicate one half of all fundraising proceeds toward it until we have enough to break ground. While the Board will also pursue other grants and funding sources, the total cost of the project (which would use long-lasting, splinter-free composite boards) is estimated at about $50,000. So, we have some special fundraising to do!
That’s where a ‘capital campaign’ comes in… Over this winter, NCLF will make a special push to raise funds toward this specific project. Within the coming weeks, we will reveal a concept drawing to more clearly show our vision for improving this space. The Board is excited at the prospect of building something that will greatly enhance our library for generations to come.
And we need help! If any members are interested in pitching in for this special project as we design our roll-out – especially if you have capital campaign experience - please reach out. Thanks!
Fall Volunteer Opportunities
Prime Time Family Reading
This is a great program that is coming to New Castle Public Library starting next week. As children’s librarian Ewa Wojciechowska explains, “it is a 6-week long program that was developed in Louisiana in 1991 and has since spread to multiple states. [For] underserved families, … at each session families enjoy a warm, healthy meal, and have almost an hour of storytelling and discussion time…
“Families also are able to keep a copy of each book they read at Prime Time, in an effort to also build up their home libraries. To garner and keep interest, families participate in door prizes each week which are primarily donations from local businesses and community organizations, with the addition of a few high interest prizes for the final session. Any leftover food each night is also raffled off at the end.
“The main goals for families in our community, as I see it, are to deliver a quality humanities education experience, create new library users, increase family bonding and reading time, and improve academic achievement overall…
“The program will run from 6:00-7:30 every Wednesday starting October 11th and ending on November 15th… Volunteers will only be needed to serve food and clean up afterwards, as each night will be catered by Porto-Fino’s. Volunteers can of course also partake in the dinner, or take a serving home for themselves if they wish. People can sign up to help for one night, or for multiple nights…”
Battery Park Beach Cleanup
This event is a long-running annual tradition for the New Castle Sailing Club (NCSC), which the New Castle Hundred Lions Club has helped to organize for the past couple years. The Friends have been invited to get involved for this great event. Please see the message below from NCSC Vice Commodore Antje Bussiek.
“We are excited to announce a community-driven initiative to make a beneficial impact on our local New Castle Park and shoreline. The New Castle Sailing Club is organizing our annual Beach Clean-up event, and we would like to invite you to join us in this effort.
“Event Details: Clean-Up of Battery Park Beach area, New Castle, DE | October 14th | 10 AM - 1PM | Sign in at the NCSC Sail House at the end of W.3rd Street.
“Why Volunteer? Participating in our Delaware River beach cleanup is your chance to have a positive impact on both our environment and community. Your involvement contributes to the preservation of the Delaware River shoreline - please join us!
“What to Expect: Beach cleanup equipment will be provided, including bags, and gloves. We recommend wearing old sturdy shoes and bringing work gloves. Volunteer Certificates will be available. It's a family-friendly event, so feel free to bring your friends and loved ones.
“Groups and individuals are welcome to help pick up the trash and debris that has accumulated this Summer so we can enjoy this beautiful park year round! We sincerely hope you can join us in this important endeavor. If you have any questions or need further information, please don't hesitate to contact me.”
NCLF will not be able to coordinate volunteers for this event, so if members would like to pitch in, please use the contact info above to reach out directly to let organizers know you are interested. Thanks!
Art on the Green Book Sale(s) 2023 – New Challenges, New Opportunities
Thanks to the volunteers who make these fundraisers possible, the Friends turned a rainstorm and rescheduling of Art on the Green into an extremely successful double book sale over the last two weekends, raising over $2800 toward our mission on behalf of the library.
When news came that Art on the Green (originally a “rain or shine” event with no rain date) would be soaked last weekend, we moved the book sale planned for our tents to the library. Then word came that AotG would actually be rescheduled, and Book Sale co-chairs Robert and Susan had a tough decision to make with very little time to make it. In the end, rather than choose between disappointing the thousand plus people who had responded with interest specifically to our 9/23 book sale, and missing out on the rescheduled AotG and all of its patrons, they boldly chose to sell books on both weekends.
Although this is not necessarily a template for the future (here’s hoping for sunny AotG Saturdays in coming years), it was a big success.
A big part of that success is due to the five wonderful raffle baskets that were put together by NCLF member Jennifer Ramsdell, with help from board members Angela Marconi and Judy Panzarella. They were really inspired collections and – while the ticket count is still out – it looks like this will have been among our most successful raffles ever. Thanks and congrats to Jenn and all who helped!
The Friends’ next Book Sale will be at New Castle Public Library’s Winter Festival & Market, December 9 from 10am to 4pm.
Friends Board Moves to Define & Enhance Membership Benefits
As announced in a previous Member Update, earlier this year, the board voted to revise NCLF’s tiers of membership for the first time in many years, bringing our fees more in line with other local non-profits and Friends groups throughout the county. The new fee structure, as a reminder, is below.
$15 Friend (single membership)
$25 Family (household membership)
The board has updated more than just the fees, though. Recognizing that people have many options for getting involved and growing expectations for what it means to “join” things, we have moved toward a concrete list of Member Benefits. Being a visible, vocal supporter of New Castle Public Library remains at the top of the list of reasons to become a Friend.
But members also (already, in most cases) enjoy the following perks:
Regular Updates about what we’re doing to support NCPL and its staﬀ,
Discounts on Friends’ Tote Bags and Bag Sales (NEW),
Free Raffle Tickets at events featuring raffles (NEW),
Access to special Member Events, and
Unique chances to volunteer and meet other great members of our library community.
Starting in 2024, when members join or renew, they will receive a similar coupon or card that they can show (either printed out or on phone screens, etc.) to continue enjoying these perks at Friends events. Some details are still being worked out, but we are pleased to be able to offer members these benefits.
Special thanks to Membership Chair Irma Benedek for her excellent management of our member list, very insightful additions to these discussions around updating things, and willingness to implement these changes on ‘her watch.’
“What have you done for me lately?”
… NCLF Contributions to the Library in 2023
The Friends Board recently reestablished the organization’s annual budget, after an extreme shift in our operations (and the library’s needs) during the first years of the Covid-19 pandemic made it very difficult to make or stick to projections in any meaningful way. As the saying goes, “don’t tell me your priorities – show me your budget, and I’ll tell you your priorities.”
Based on the budget, and beyond the major garden project announced above, here are the Friends’ current priorities on behalf of New Castle Public Library:
Support for the new Library of Things and the popular Walk-in Collection,
Offering resources to help library staff comfortably learn and represent NCPL at professional conferences,
Enabling NCPL to offer free menstrual products in the family restroom,
Contributing to opportunities for staff appreciation and development, and the
Recent purchase of a new, modern system of office phones (NCLF covered ½).
Plus, we’re in talks with children’s librarian Ewa to bring back “Rover” – the roaming plushie pup that kids just love trying to find in the library – in a big way after the stuffed pooch recently went missing!
There’s a lot going on at New Castle Public Library… Thank you to every Friends member whose support of this organization makes our work on behalf of this vibrant, community institution possible!