Community Builder: Richland Library 'friends' help raise thousands for programs

Community Builder: Richland Library 'friends' help raise thousands for programs

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - If many hands make light work, then what happens weekly at the Richland Library's "Book Barn" may appear effortless.

"The volunteers out here have been volunteering together for years," said library volunteer coordinator Katy Watkins. "It is an absolute family out here."

That family includes friends Janice Brown and Tina Auman, who have been giving of their time together at the Volunteer Operations Center, or "Book Barn," for more than 12 years.

"She [Janice] kept talking about going to the book barn and doing this at the book barn," Auman said. "I thought she meant a literal barn. But then she kind of convinced me that I needed to come out and see what they were doing out here. I've been out here ever since!"

The book barn is filled with books donated by the public to the library system. A quarter those books are sold at the barn at extreme discount to help raise money for library programs

"It's not just all about the money, but that's a great side of it, too. It gets to fund a lot of the programs at the library that otherwise might not get funded," said Auman.

Volunteers like Janice and Tina are called Richland Library Friends. Last year, 89 friends donated more than 5,200 hours to help prepare for the book sales. The library says that equates to nearly $110,000.

"The work they do is amazing and it's so much more than raising money for the library," said Watkins.

But the funds certainly help.

In 2016, library staff says nearly $68,000 were raised through the quarterly book sales. Many friends say Janice and Tina are a huge part of that effort.

Lana Hefner nominated the pair as Community Builders.

"I thought Janice and Tina qualify for that in a big way," Hefner said.

The duo was certainly surprised, but they add they don't need the recognition to keep coming back.

"You form so many friendships here with people you would never have," said Brown. "We share our love for books and we share our love each other, and it's the good times and the bad that really is what makes book sales happen.

Janice and Tina say their $1,000 donation from the Michael J. Mungo Foundation will go right back to the Richland Library Friends.

They add to mark your calendar because the next book sale is scheduled for April 28 and April 29. For more information on the Richland Library Friends, click here.

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