Friends of Hyattsville library may get shelved -- Gazette.Net


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The Hyattsville Branch Library may find itself without “friends” if no one is willing to take leadership of its community support organization, which could mean the loss of extra programs at the library.

The current Friends organization was formed three years ago, but over time, attendance has dropped off, said Friends President Peter O’Day of Hyattsville.

Alan Mattlage of Hyattsville, treasurer of the Friends of the Hyattsville Branch Library, told a group of 15 community members who attended its July 2 meeting that the organization may need to dissolve, if people cannot be found to stand for office and attend meetings. Three people are required for a quorum, according to the group’s bylaws.

“If we cannot get people to serve as officers, then we are not authorized to write out checks, or pay out money,” Mattlage said. “We would have to declare the group defunct, no longer in existence, and I will have to notify the IRS that the group has dissolved.”

Catherine Hollerbach, area manager for the Hyattsville branch library, said having a Friends organization is an asset to the library, and allows the library a way to disseminate information to the community.

“Without the Friends, you would lose that liaison with the community, and we would really like to have that,” Hollerbach said.

O’Day said it is especially important to maintain that connection now that the project to build a new library is moving forward, with an architect and three community meetings in the near future.

“With the new library being built, it’s important to be able to give our input and keep the community involved,” O’Day said.

The Friends group operates a bookstore in the lower level of the library, where it sells books donated by the library that are not used in collections. The funds from the bookstore, roughly $300 a month, are used to pay for programs at the library, such as a film series and a children’s summer reading group; subsidize staff and community events, and purchase items for staff, Mattlage said.

Mattlage said if the Friends disband, it could not pay for those programs, and the bookstore would most likely be converted into a free book exchange.

Hollerbach said the library also uses funds given by the Friends to pay for craft materials, snacks and refreshments during children’s and teens’ programs.

“Just those little extra things that we can’t get,” Hollerbach said.

O’Day said the group has not been able to authorize checks to pay for programs for four months, even though they had the money, because they have not had more than two people at a meeting.

New elections were to be held in April, but not enough people attended, O’Day said.

Elections for new officers, a president, a treasurer and a secretary, will be held Aug. 20, and Mattlage said if no one is willing to take over, the Friends will cease to exist.

janfenson-comeau@gazette.net