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Carnegie Library, Hamburg Library supported by Friends

LIVINGSTON COUNTY — You’ve probably heard about book sales and fundraisers at your local library, but did you know there’s usually a separate group behind it?

Most book lovers in Livingston County benefit from a “Friends of the Library” — from Hamburg Township to Howell to Brighton.

The Friends of Hamburg Township Library, for example, handles all fundraising for the library, among other responsibilities.

“The Friends are just absolutely wonderful,” said Library Director Holly Hentz. “Any special events, projects, things we haven’t specifically budgeted for, the Friends are there to support us.”

The Friends manage the library’s gardens, organize volunteers and advocate. They run book sales in the spring and fall and operating the library gift shop, which contributes to the library’s monthly income.

“We help wherever we’re needed, and we always enjoy our time here,” said group secretary Debbie Kooperman. “We love our library.”

More than ever, libraries are expanding beyond books. Hamburg Township Library offers study rooms, proctoring services, and a “Library of Things,” with items like board games, sewing machines and binoculars.

Hentz said the library is also a community hub, providing a cool place during hot weather and somewhere for people to gather. Various groups and clubs meet at the library, including those who embroider, knit and play chess.

“Public libraries are much more than just a place for books,” Hentz said. “We have a lot of other services.”

The Carnegie Library

Estelle Kirby, a member of the Friends of the Howell Carnegie District Library, finds joy in volunteering with the group during her retirement.

“We love our library, and we’re very happy to put in the time,” Kirby said. “We enjoy the work. We enjoy being around books. We enjoy being around the people who come to read and buy the books.”

Kirby said the work keeps her physically active, moving and organizing materials.

“There’s nothing like moving boxes of books. You bend, stretch and put books on shelves,” Kirby said. “I think it’s the fountain of youth to go in and work physically with these books and mentally with continuing the educational aspects of always reading.”

Kirby said many volunteers are retired teachers, who are passionate about books and enjoy discussing and recommending new reads to each other.

“I’ve always been a reader, and now I’m retired, and it’s the best thing I could have ever found in my retirement,” Kirby said. “I am surrounded by books … and by people who, like me, love books.”

The Friends of the Howell Carnegie District Library holds book sales twice a month October-June and an annual five-day sale during the Howell Melon Fest in August. 

Donations are collected year-round by appointment, with a limit of three boxes per trip.

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Kirby said the group has funded various items for the library, including new chairs, self-checkout stations, computers and items for the children’s section. 

During the pandemic, members donated $10,000 to help the library offer additional online resources.

“That’s our function,” Kirby said. “We’re there to support.”

“The Book Room” in the Carnegie Library is organized and operated by Kirby and the Friends. It’s an ongoing used bookstore. Most books range in price from 25 cents for children’s books to $3.50 for new issues.

Interested in being a friend? Visit friendsofhtl.org or howelllibrary.org/friends-of-the-library to get started.

— Madeline Warren is a freelance writer for The Livingston Daily. Contact the newsroom at [email protected].

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