ST. CHARLES - Hard at work inside the St. Charles Public Library, volunteers like Judi Asselborn are finding themselves dwarfed by towers of donated books. Asselborn is president of the Friends group, and a former staffer at the library. She dusted herself off and came out from behind the stacks to answer some questons from Republican managing editor Sherri Dauskurdas, about her passion for the library and the upcoming fundraiser.
First off, how long have you been involved at the library, and how long have you served as president of the foundation board? My involvement at the Library began 20 years ago when I started working in the Business Office as an administrative assistant. I worked full-time for 16 years and have worked part-time for four years. My husband and I joined the 'Friends' group about six years ago and I have been president for two years.
People choose their philanthropy carefully. Why have you decided to devote time to the library, and are you involved in any other local causes? I have always loved books and reading. When my kids were little we would always go to the library for story times and other events. Working at the library has given me first-hand knowledge of how vital it is to the community. I see how the director, board, and staff work to make it the well-run, award-winning facility that it is. I also know how difficult it is to make ends meet in this economy. The Friends of St. Charles Library have funded many projects over the years that have enhanced the library and its programs and I feel it is a very worthwhile organization.
I am also a past-president of the Pottawatomie Garden Club, another worthwhile organization that works to enhance the City with our Spring and Fall planting of the Bridges and around City Hall. For the past few years the Garden Club has also planted the flowers at the library.
Tell me a bit about readying for the annual book sale. How many books do you have on hand? Are they all older copies pulled from the shelves, or are they donated as well? I don’t think anyone has ever counted, but I’d say we have thousands. Our storage room is always filled to capacity, and then some. We have a mixture of books that the library has withdrawn as well as those donated by patrons.
What's the process for sorting and readying them for sale to the public? How long have you and others been spending getting them ready? Books that are donated or withdrawn are sorted by one of the lbrary staff members, Susan Wukitsch. She sorts and boxes them according to subject and then puts them in our storage area. She also keeps our on-going lobby book sale area filled as well as sorting out books that we send to soldiers or donate to other organizations. Susan is a treasure and I don’t know what we’d do without her! It’s a year-round process since we are always getting in more books. Sometimes we’re sorting until the last minute, but we’ve always been ready to open the doors at 2:30 pm on Friday!
What are some of the more interesting items folks might find? We usually have a good variety of books on many subjects as well as fiction and paperbacks. We also have CDs, DVDs, audio books on tape & cassette, and computer games. It varies from sale to sale depending on what comes in. We do have a lot of cook books this time as well as children’s books.
What's the goal to raise, and what will it fund?
We don’t have a specific goal but we usually raise over $3,000; we’d be delighted to raise more. All monies we raise go to sponsor or support library programs, such as donating premiums for the Summer Reading Programs, sponsoring the Summer Reading Program Ice Cream Social, supporting the Young Adult Exam Crams, supporting the Youth Services Babysitting Training Program, supporting the TnT (Twenties & Thirties) Program, and offering scholarships to library staff for continuing education.
Finally, what happens to the books and items that don't get sold this year? The books are donated to an organization that will sell some (giving the Friends a percentage) and recycle the rest.
I think the Friends’ book sales are a win, win situation. We raise money for the Library and at the same time feel that we’re helping the community by offering books at affordable prices.
How can people get involved? We’re always looking for a few good “Friends.” There is more information about the Friends on our website at www.friendsofstcharleslibrary.com. Our next meeting will be held at the Library on Monday, June 10, beginning with a pot luck salad supper at 6:00 pm. Guests are always welcome.