Written by Jimmie Epling   

What a Difference Friends Can Make 

By Jimmie Epling

The libraries of the Darlington County Library System are among the most open and welcoming places in the county.  Because of this, we had about 300,000 visitors to our four libraries last year.  They came in search of something to borrow, get, use, or experience.  The Library’s staff works hard to make the Library a vital and relevant part of the community, but we cannot do it alone.  We have Friends of the Library who help make what we do for you even better!  Our Friends are part of what it takes to make your Library one of the best in the state and the country!        

Each of the Library’s four locations, Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar, and Society Hill has a Friends of the Library group.  What is a Friends of the Library?  It is a non-profit organization that enriches the community by helping the Library provide needed services, programming, and materials beyond its ability to provide. Who are these Friends?  They are your neighbors and friends who volunteer their time and expertise to making a difference in your community through their support of your local Library.  They are passionate in their support of the Library and the many great things it provides the residents of Darlington County.

What do the Friends do for the Library?  They help make dreams and ideas, large and small, a reality.   

If not for the efforts of our Friends over the years, the libraries in our four communities might still be small, cramped places. 

A group of Darlingtonians in the mid-80s saw a need for a new modern library building and made it a reality.  Two and a half decades later, the Friends brought together a team of volunteers that in a weekend transformed the interior of the Library into a bright, cheerful, and modern looking place. 

The Hartsville Friends in early 90s went out into the community and spoke about the need for a new library.  Their efforts brought a new library in a repurposed Winn Dixie grocery store into being in 1994.  Several years later, the Friends determined the Library needed more space to meet the community’s needs, so they once again went out into the community and brought back the necessary funds to add an additional 4,000 square feet onto the building in 2001.  

The Lamar Friends rallied to bring a modern library to the community at the beginning of this century.  Through grants and other fund raising, a 4,200 square foot building was constructed in 2003.  Seven years later, the Friends were instrumental in securing a grant from the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation to enlarge the Library by another 1,000 square feet with the addition of two meeting rooms.  Seeing the need for an even larger library for the community, the Friends secured another grant that helped the Library add another 1,000 square feet to the building earlier this year. 

In 2006, the Society Hill Friends rallied support for a new building to replace its tiny branch.  Their efforts were rewarded with a new library building in 2011 that is a gem in the community.

The Libraries’ Friends also do many smaller things for their local library.  Friends volunteer to help with adult and children’s programs, baking cookies and cakes for bake sales, dishing out chicken bog or chili, decorating informational tables at special events, distributing books to “little libraries,” organizing book sales and events, and much more.  The Friends purchased new reference, circulation, and children’s services desks, shelving, tables, and chairs for Hartsville.  The Lamar Friends work to maintain the beautiful park next to the Branch.  The Darlington and Hartsville Friends recently went together to buy a poster printer for the Library’s use.  The Hartsville and Lamar Friends provided matching funds for computers specially designed for the use of children.  All the Friends groups use their funds to support summer programming for the children, pay for the movie license for our family movie nights, purchase discussion group books, movies and books in the collection, and so much more.  Our Friends, you might say help provide “the icing on the cake” for much of what we do for the community. 

Why become a Friend of your local library? 

Being a Friend of the Library gives you an opportunity to make new friends and a difference in your community by volunteering your time and expertise.  Whether it is helping out at the Friends booth during Hartsville’s Down Town Market, setting up for a book sale in the Library, helping children with a craft, or supervising a family movie at the Library, there is always something you can do.  It is also a great opportunity to develop leadership skills by becoming a Friend.  Through taking on a project that will benefit the Library and community or by becoming a Board member, you can learn and develop skills that can last a lifetime.  You can shape the future of the Library and the community as a Friend.  

As a Friends member, you can express your creative passion to help the Library promote the importance of reading.  The Library is always looking for talented individuals willing to share their passion at the Library.  Artists, writers, gardeners, dancers, chefs, crafters, business owners, technophiles, gamers, public relations gurus, and historians are always welcome to share their talents through the Library.  The ability to read is essential to an individual’s future success.  Becoming a member of the Friends is one way to become an advocate for reading and libraries and to join others like you.  So much can be done for the community by and through the Library that can only be done with the help of passionate and creative volunteers, like you.

Finally, it is an opportunity to learn about the community and the Library.  Friends share their knowledge and expertise with other Friends.  Learn new skills through working as a Friends volunteer on a project.  Discover things you did not know about the community and those who are part of it.  And most importantly, learn about what the Library has to offer the community and what it could offer in the future. 

So how can you become a Friend and make a difference in your community and the Library?  Each Friends group is always looking for those who want to support their community and the mission of the Library.  Just drop by your nearest branch or give them a call to get the latest membership information.  Memberships start at $10 for senior or student and go up to $250 for a “Sustainer.”  

It is good to have Friends.  Our Friends have made a remarkable difference in the Library and the community.  Join today to help make our Library and community even better in the years to come.  

October 5, 2015 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 December 2015 )