A community group supporting the Hyattsville branch library is getting renewed thanks to a surge in community outreach.
“Our hope is that folks who value what [the library] does to build community and sustain local culture will join us to support and supplement its programs,” said Elizabeth Pearson of Hyattsville, newly elected president of the Friends of the Hyattsville Library.
The organization was on the verge of dissolving through lack of involvement in June and had difficulty getting two members to attend a meeting, officials said.
The remaining officers discussed disbanding the group and closing the book store, which provides approximately $11,000 yearly for library services through sales of donated books, said outgoing treasurer Alan Mattlage.
In May, the group scheduled elections, but no one attended, outgoing president Peter O’Day said.
“This time, when we threatened to close the book store, people responded,” O’Day said.
Elections were rescheduled for Aug. 20 and 10 people attended. Pearson won election as the group’s new president, and the positions of treasurer and secretary were also filled.
Cathy Hollerbach, area branch manager for the Prince George’s County region including Hyattsville, said having an active organization can be very beneficial to the library, by providing staff supplies, paying for extra programs and holding appreciation events for staff and volunteers.
“There are lots of things that the Friends could do if you want to be involved, but that would be entirely up to you,” Hollerbach said.
O’Day said the Friends also serves as a way for the community to give input into the library, which he said is especially important as the county prepares to build a new Hyattsville branch.
“To me, the Friends’ role is to advocate for what you want in the library,” O’Day said.
Pearson said she worked for the Folger Shakespeare Library for over 20 years, serving as its director of major gifts and records and manager of the Friends of the Folger prior to her retirement.
Having an active Friends organization is also a huge benefit to the community, supporting supplemental library programs, such as a summer reading series, an independent film series and Spanish heritage programs, Pearson said.
Pearson said she hopes to use her experience with the Friends of the Folger to help build up membership in the Hyattsville Friends and promote public awareness of what the organization does, as well as to work with library staff to develop a ‘wish list’ of library needs.