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A library's gotta have Friends to weather hard times; Fundraising group seeks new faces.

Byline: J.P. Ellery

SPENCER - So much more can be done to help the Richard Sugden Library if people take an active role in the nonprofit group that over the years has aided the library in many ways.

The Friends of Richard Sugden Library dates to 1967 and helps with special programs and funding purchases outside the annual budget provided by the town.

"We're trying to do so much with the budget that we have," Library Director Mary Baker-Wood said. She said the allotted money can go only so far because fiscal constraints limit what the town can provide.

Friends President Lois Shorten said 60 members donate money, but very few step forward to attend the four meetings per year to plan projects for helping out the library.

The next meeting is next Thursday and anyone interested in learning more about the group is invited to attend.

People in town were very active in the 1990s, when a fundraising drive was initiated to raise $100,000 to complete a $1.8 million renovation and expansion of the library on Pleasant Street. Ms. Shorten said that same interest is needed to continue aid.

Mrs. Shorten said membership drives for the past decade have been unsuccessful in spurring much of a response.

The financial aid to libraries from the state also has been affected by diminished resources, according to Mrs. Shorten, so the library has an even greater need for the Friends.

"We do buy materials for the library and we have bought things like a microwave," she said.

The group also conducts an annual book sale.

Another discouraging membership drive was conducted last month, Mrs. Shorten said, but it is never too late to step forward and lend a hand. For more information, stop at the library.

She said, "It is a wonderful way to help your community and library and it really does not take a lot of time."

Annual membership costs just $5 per family, but lots of people donate more than that.

"Because we don't have any active members," she said, "there's not a whole lot we can accomplish, but if we did have an active core group of people, then there are lots of projects that need to be done."

She said a mural painted by the late Jacob Knight, a well-known local artist, needs to be restored.

Also, the brickwork in the community room is peeling, paint is coming off, and carpeting is needed downstairs.

"There are lots of physical things that need to be done," Mrs. Shorten said, "things that obviously the town cannot afford to do."

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Mrs. Shorten
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 4, 2010
Words:437
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