SEMINOLE — As National Friends of the Library Week, set for Oct. 20-26 this year, approaches, the Friends of the Seminole Library is gearing up for a week of celebratory events.

The library’s Youth Services department has organized a series of special events celebrating “friendship” in recognition of National Friends of Libraries Week. The centerpiece will be Poetica’s StoryDance with Friends on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2 p.m.

“The big, new program that we’ve never done before is the StoryDance with friends,” said Allison Banmally, librarian. “It’s really interesting. It’s movement and dance but more of a storytelling dance program.”

This literacy program is presented by Amanda Sieradzki, and blends dance, creative writing and BrainDance methods developed by educator Ann Green Gilbert. This free event is open to all ages and abilities, but Banmally encourages people to sign up for this free event at poetica.eventbrite.com.

Other events during National Friends of Libraries Week are “drop-ins,” she said. Library patrons can stop by the Children’s Area to make a friendship bracelet Thursday, Oct. 24, 4 to 7 p.m. All supplies will be provided.

Individuals are also invited to come by the Children’s Area to write a “friendship letter” to a library staff member.

“It should be a lot of fun,” Banmally said. “You can share something fun about yourself, talk about your favorite book, talk about what you love about the library. The best part is, the librarians will write back to you.”

Those who have written a letter can stop by the department the week of Oct. 28 to pick up their reply letter.

These events are a “cute” way to highlight the work done by the Friends of the Seminole Library, said Jean Cowan, president of the Friends of the Seminole Library Board.

“I think our goal this week, as it always is, is to bring attention to the Friends, and National Friends Week was kind of a good idea to do it,” she said.

In May of 1991, the city of Seminole was awarded a $400,000 grant under the Florida Library Construction Act to build a new library. That same year, the Friends of Seminole Library formed, operating a corner counter at the library and incorporating as a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

By 2003, a new library was built and the Seminole Community Library, a joint-use project between the city and St. Petersburg College’s Seminole campus, opened. In this library, the Friends group was provided a much larger space where it continues to operate its Friends Shoppe, selling books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and other items.

Money raised from these sales and additional special fundraisers benefits the library, either through a financial donation — the Friends handed the city a $15,500 check to be used for the library budget this year — or to host events or directly purchase needed equipment. 

Since it was established in 1991, the Friends have raised more than $1 million for the Seminole Community Library.

In a recent letter to Friends members, Cowan wrote, “The funds raised make it possible for the Friends to support the Seminole Community Library in providing programs for people of all ages, and to supplement the library budget.”

In 2018 alone, the Friends group purchased virtual reality equipment for Youth Services, an oversized chess set for special events, mouse pads, books, and popcorn and drinks for movie nights.

It also continues to host events such as Wonderful Wednesdays in June and July and its popular Sunday Musicale series from September to May.

The next Sunday Musicale performance takes place Sunday, Nov. 3, 3 p.m., and features organist Joe Fontechia. This concert artist spent 30 years performing all over the world. Currently, he is director of studio operations at Fletcher Music.

Volunteer power is the key to the Friends’ success, said Carol Rodhouse, the board member who oversees volunteers.

The Friends Shoppe is open 62 hours a week, seven days a week and is staffed entirely by volunteers, she said.

She’s currently seeking new volunteers, though, as many have dropped out over the past year for personal reasons.

“In 2019 alone, we lost nine permanent people,” Rodhouse said. “We just need a bigger pool (of volunteers).”

New members are just as important, she added. Memberships range from just $10 a year for an individual and $15 for a couple, to lifetime memberships for $100 for an individual or $150 for a couple. Members receive a semi-annual newsletter and are invited to an annual luncheon.

“The funds received from memberships really help us out,” Cowan said.

The Friends are also gearing up for their annual holiday sale, which takes place Saturday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 10, 1 to 4 p.m., this year. Not only do they encourage the community to come out and shop, they’re also accepting used items in good condition that might make good holiday gifts to be resold at the event.

For more information about the Friends of the Seminole Library, visit them at www.facebook.com/friendsseminolelibrary or at http://go.spcollege.edu/scl/friends.htm

For inquiries about volunteer opportunities, email crodhouse1@hotmail.com.