Friends of the Library are friends of the community

Opinion: Columns

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Lane Hart

Oct. 21-27 was National Friends of Libraries Week. There is no better time than now to join the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library. Since 1948, this dedicated group of volunteers builds bridges between the library and the community, raising funds to support an amazing array of local events and services for children, teens, adults and seniors in our community.

You can join the Friends and support their mission to make Oak Park a better place to live by promoting closer relations between the library and the residents of Oak Park.

Visit or pick up a brochure at any library location. And to stay informed about coming attractions, be sure to "like" and follow our Friends on Facebook.

Recently, our Friends hosted award-winning author Louise Erdrich at a free, public lecture at Unity Temple. Erdrich shared stories from her new book, The Round House, which was just nominated as a finalist for the National Book Award. We are very proud that Oak Park was this major author's only stop in or near Chicago on her national book tour. This special annual event honors Barbara Ballinger, former library director, who served our library and community for more than 32 years.

And for more than 40 years, the Friends have sponsored one of the largest book fairs in the Midwest. This past summer, 200 volunteers came to Oak Park and River Forest High School to sort more than 100,000 books, videos, DVDs and other items for the 42nd Annual Book Fair.

So what does all that effort bring our Oak Park community?

Hugely popular summer reading programs for all ages and special School's Out activities for kids from just a few months old through fifth grade.

Teen and adult activities, including last year's fantastic six-week celebration of the genius of Maurice Sendak, the creator of Where the Wild Things Are, with a traveling exhibit, films, music, art and storytelling events geared to all ages.

The Writers at Wright series at Unity Temple, which earlier this month featured Oak Parker Chris Ware, and in November will bring PBS' Christopher Kimball to town.

A free folk music series and the ever-popular weekday film series hosted by Doug Deuchler, film historian, author and lifelong educator.

And there's more to come: Looking ahead, the Friends will host scientist/author Jared Diamond with his new book, The World until Yesterday: What We Can Learn from Traditional Societies, at Unity Temple on Thursday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m.

Please join our Friends in their efforts to enrich our community cultural life. It's a tradition that is worth ensuring will last long into the future.

Lane S. Hart is president of the Oak Park Public Library Board.

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