Friends of Seymour Library support wide-ranging library needs

By on August 6, 2018
The annual fabric sale took place in the library’s Duryea Room on June 9. Tables were filled with fabric, yarn, thread, buttons, ribbon and other sewing materials contributed by people in the wider Brockport area. This sale and the used book sales held twice a year are the primary fundraising activity of the Friends of Seymour Library. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

The annual fabric sale took place in the library’s Duryea Room on June 9. Tables were filled with fabric, yarn, thread, buttons, ribbon and other sewing materials contributed by people in the wider Brockport area. This sale and the used book sales held twice a year are the primary fundraising activity of the Friends of Seymour Library. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

In visits to Seymour Library in Brockport, my striking impression is that, of all our local events or institutions, this must be the most concentrated gathering of a cross-section of our community, all enjoying a wide variety of educational and entertaining pursuits.  I see a steady stream of diverse people in great numbers when I enter or leave, around 400 daily recorded, and more during summer programs.  They are adults of all ages, teens, and parents or grandparents with kids in tow.  Wandering the library’s many sections on any day, I may come upon kids’ structured activities such as crafts, Legos, and electronic gadgets. Teens and adult activities are also abundant.

Behind this delightful display of wholesome happenings are the Friends of Seymour Library. They are a group of volunteers who raise funds for library materials, services, staff development, equipment and programs. Some of the programs include Children and Teen Book Festivals, Children’s Summer Reading Program, Teens’ Summer Programs, and Adult Reading Programs, to name only a few.

Friends and their work

The Friends group consists of anyone who contributes as little as $10 a year to be a member, now numbering about 100. The amount of direct involvement is up to the individual. Many are involved in fundraising such as the membership drive, the twice-yearly used book sales and the yearly fabric sales.  Some help out with the many library programs.  In the Friends’ monthly meetings, Director Carl Gouveia’s contribution includes updates on library activity and where funds are most needed.

Officers of the Friends have deep roots in the organization and they all affirm Seymour Library’s great value to the community.

Past President Charlotte Wright – Behind organizational foundation and growth

Charlotte “Char” Wright served as president of Friends for 16 years, starting in 2000.

Under her long tenure, the Friends organization evolved to what it is today.  Her name is always spoken with respect, including from the current president, Lynne Gardner: “I am very proud of the Friends, and I give credit to Charlotte who laid the foundation over her administration.”

Several directors came and left Seymour Library during Wright’s term in office. One thing she established early on was the inclusion of the director in Friends meetings “so we would work as a team,” she said.  Friends became more active, moving beyond sorting magazines and washing books, she reflects.  Funds originally supported summer programs, but expanded to causes like reading incentives for adults, plus staff development and staff appreciation events. The yearly book sale went to twice a year and the annual fabric sale began. And, reorganization and revised by-laws occurred in 2015 with staggered terms for officers.

Wright said Friends had been supporting children’s programs, led by librarian Natalie Burch, and teen’s programs for years. The teens programs had thrived under Chris Daily who retired in 2017 after 26 years of service. Carl Gouveia became the library’s director in 2013. He hired a librarian, Abby DeVuyst, who created the first adult programs, now receiving Friends’ support, too.  He also hired a teen librarian, Stephanie Blando.  Wright noted that all three librarians have degrees in library science.

Wright reflected on today’s Seymour Library.  “It’s a wonderful place with great programs for our youth and adults. The staff is friendly and helpful, including some trained in computer technology who are available to help those using our many computers,” she said.

President Lynne Gardner – Sees fundraisers as added benefit for the community

Lynne Gardner has been president of the group for two years.

A Brockport resident for 30 years, she started bringing her kids to the original library site in the Seymour mansion.  Now serving about 15 years with the Friends, she joined because, “We spent a lot of time in the library and I decided I wanted to give back to this wonderful place.”

She sees a wider benefit to raising funds in the book sales.  Beyond the money raised, “I love the whole idea of passing on books already read to somebody who has not read them,” she said. “It encourages reading and is a community event.  People look forward to it twice a year.”  She also likes the recycling of fabric and yarn in the annual fabric sale.  After the sale, left-overs get good use by being offered free to organizations making Dresses for Girls Around the World, knit caps for babies, lap rugs for vets, and comforters for the homeless.

Vice President Dan Burns – Sees increased cooperation among three support groups

Dan Burns estimates he has been a member of Friends for 20 years, now in his second year as vice president.

He sums up the value of Seymour Library as a “community center with a relatively new and very well-done regional history section (Local History Room).” He cites offerings like books, periodicals, the internet, research programs, but emphasizes “programs for all ages, including young people and teenagers which have developed so much in the last several years.”  He sees Friends as “very active in fund raising to support all the increased programs, including in the community, like prizes for essays, research papers and Project Graduation at Brockport High School.”

Burns sees increasing cooperation among the groups supporting the library:  Friends, the Library Board, and the relatively new Foundation.  “All three are working toward the same goals.”

Treasurer John Hamling – Feels libraries must “rebrand” for this generation

John Hamling

John Hamling

John Hamling is the only officer of Friends who is not retired.  And, since 1992, he has served a record 26 years as treasurer. He is a financial advisor at Karpus Investment Management in Pittsford. (Missing from the May 21 Friends meeting photo).

Hamling describes Seymour Library as “a multi-purpose gathering place,” and an example why public libraries should “rebrand, or pitch a little differently, because a lot of folks think libraries are a dying breed as bricks and mortar,” he said. “It’s not just about borrowing books.  Books have become secondary in some cases, because the generation behind us (I am 65) is not going to the library for the same reasons we did.”  He said we are fortunate at Seymour Library to have the teen and adult groups with “attractive things to do” and access to electronic books, videos, and games that are the popular media.

“Our teen group is highly regarded throughout Monroe County,” Hamling said. “It’s very popular and successful. Other libraries ask what we do differently with teens.  Chris Daily built the program with the help of many; she made it happen.  And, leadership is seamless with Stephanie Blando as the new teen librarian.”

Secretary Carolyn Mundy – Sees the library as “The hub of the community where all kinds of things happen”

Frequenting the library for many years, Carolyn Mundy joined the Friends in 2012.   She has been the secretary since 2015.

“Libraries are the hub of the community where all kinds of things happen,” Mundy said.  She sees the importance as a social gathering place for some, plus the book sales providing affordable books. “There are programs for children, teens and adults, as well as family nights, movies, and games.”  She likes doing hands-on work in most of the Friends projects like the Christmas brunch for the staff. “It’s nice to interact with the staff and get to know them.” She works at the book and fabric sales, does the membership mailing, and provides membership information at the sidewalk sale and arts festival in Brockport.

Friends of Seymour Library – State-affiliated and interacting with county groups 

Friends of Seymour Library is one of 16 groups in Monroe County called the “MCLS Friends Council.” The Council is part of the New York Library Association Friends of Libraries Section. The groups meet twice a year, taking turns hosting the meeting and sharing their current activities, fund-raisers, and other membership initiatives.

The meeting this year was on April 24 at Seymour Library, attended by 10 of the groups, with almost 40 people present in the Duryea Room round-table discussion.

“The Friends of Seymour Library and the library’s Foundation are doing great work and a goal was to showcase some of their projects for the other Friends groups,” said Lisa C. Wemett, the council’s secretary and first vice president.  Participants first had a tour of the library guided by Director Carl Gouveia.  After the sharing session, a sampling of members gave their impressions of Seymour Library:

“Lovely library with welcoming, pleasant, comfortable space for each age group Your new ideas sound exciting.” Pam Birch, Pittsford Friends

“A very impressive mid-sized library.  Children’s area is very well done.  But, I was really impressed with the new Local History Room.  I believe more libraries should donate space for these efforts.” Dave Eaton, Gates Friends

“Lovely! So much space for the community to meet, hold events. Well laid out for maximum re-configuration.”  Ami Peri, Avon Friends

“Many notable creative spaces. Children’s room is fantastic.”  Kathy Stothard, Brighton Friends

“The Library is very extensive. The Teen space, children’s space and pre-school spaces are so inviting and bright.”  Jill F. Campbell, Friends of Drake Library –  College at Brockport

To become a member of Friends of Seymour Library, send a tax-deductible donation of $10 or more (payable to: Friends of Seymour Library) to:  Friends Membership, Seymour Library, 161 East Avenue, Brockport, NY, 14420.  For information phone: 637-1050.

The web site for Seymour Library:   seymourlibraryweb.org

The previous feature article on Seymour Library was “Seymour Library’s Director Carl Gouveia – Living out a destiny to become the champion of a public library” in Suburban News, Hamlin-Clarkson Herald, May 13, 2018.  Go to www.westsidenewsny.com and click “Archives.”

Attending the May 21 Friends of Seymour Library meeting were (l to r) - seated: Charlotte Wright, Debbie Cody, Carolyn Mundy, Linda Sanford, and Mary Marone. Standing: Dan Burns, Lynne Gardner and Karen Sweeting. The photo was taken in the Seymour Library Duryea Room against a background of art work by Mrs. Della Buzard’s art students at the Cornerstone Christian Academy in Brockport. Art work from the community is often displayed here, contributing to the library’s unofficial identity as a “community center.” Photo by Dianne Hickerson

Attending the May 21 Friends of Seymour Library meeting were (l to r) – seated: Charlotte Wright, Debbie Cody, Carolyn Mundy, Linda Sanford, and Mary Marone. Standing: Dan Burns, Lynne Gardner and Karen Sweeting. The photo was taken in the Seymour Library Duryea Room against a background of art work by Mrs. Della Buzard’s art students at the Cornerstone Christian Academy in Brockport. Art work from the community is often displayed here, contributing to the library’s unofficial identity as a “community center.” Photo by Dianne Hickerson

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