Based on scrapbooks kept over the years, the Tahlequah Friends of the Library have been assisting the community since at least 1971. Still active, the group continues to raise funds to improve the Tahlequah Public Library and its programs.
One of the main ways FOTL raises money is by selling used books. To keep the Last Chance Bookstore and its regular sale tables stocked, volunteers must sort and categorize thousands of books every year. And with only eight active members, there are a lot of tasks to accomplish.
"Many hands make quick work. We used to have six to eight people sorting at the library," said TFOL President Margot Purdy. "We need more active members, people who could do as little as putting up posters. We have a large base of financial supporters. We have to express our appreciation of that."
Members meet each Wednesday morning to sort books and stock sale shelves.
"I love sorting the books. It's kind of like an Easter egg hunt," said Purdy. "Sometimes I wish I knew this person from the books they donate."
The group usually hosts four half-priced books sales a year, and the genre on sale right now is spiritual and religious books. Hardbacks are 50 cents, softbacks are 25 cents, and pocket-sized mass-market paperbacks are 10 cents.
"Over the course of a year, we typically build up a large inventory. Some genres build up quickly, depending on the donors," said Purdy.
The library staff regularly pares down its collection to remove outdated books, but currently, the district library system has requested that all books that are not circulating and are older than two years be removed. Many of these will be in the TFOL's big book sale set for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 11-12.
"We continue to bring in close to $10,000 a year for the library," said Purdy. "We do small things, such as supplies and prizes for activities and events, to augment the expense. We feel like we did a good job this year with our projects for the library."
The big projects for 2019 were adding an awning over the handicapped entrance and replacing the blinds on the east windows of the library's main floor.
"They were there for over 30 years. The light put a glare on the computers," said Purdy. "They could not be adjusted very easily. Now they have a remote control behind the front desk and can control them throughout the day."
Robin Mooney, TPL manager, said the blinds were the ones that had been hanging since that part of the building was added on in the 1970s.
"It's very nice. Those are big projects," she said. "We appreciate our Friends. They are so great with what they do for us. They're a small group, but active."
The idea for the awning came from a woman who used to bring her mother to the library every week. The mother used a walker and they came in through the back handicapped entrance. When the elder passed away, memorial gifts were requested for the Friends of the Library.
"People were very generous. It was something that was meant to be. We voted on it and it was up two months later," said Purdy.
The project being planned for 2020 is a gate for the interior doors of the Carnegie Room.
"It would be something to keep the facility secure when it needs to be, but the room can still be ventilated," said Purdy. "It could be an ornamental gate, maybe in ironwork keeping with the architecture of the building."
To donate items for the FOTL book store or sales, small groupings can be taken to the library during operating hours. For larger donations, leave a name and number with a staff member at the front desk and a FOTL member will contact for arrangements.
The library, 120 S. College Ave., is open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tahlequah Friends of the Library meets once a month in the TPL Rawls Room. TFOL meetings are open to the public and visitors are always welcome. To join the group, fill out a membership form at the library or on the website, www.tahlequah.lib.ok.us.