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Friends Raise Library Funds to Bring Cultural Education to Boca Raton

By Christian Burney

"Friends of the Boca Raton Public Library" is a fundraising group committed to enhancing the public library's services in Boca Raton, FL. The organization hosts adult and youth instructional programs, art exhibitions and other various events year-round to promote a love of literature and art in the Boca Raton community.

An average of 90 volunteers manage the Friends group at any given time. They operate the Friends bookstore, adult programs and special events, and oversee marketing, media communications and membership management.

Friends Board President Cyndi Bloom expects the fundraising group to have provided over $58,000 for the library by the end of 2015. "The Friends financial giving's to the library and to our library events has been increasing each year through proceeds from Bookstore sales, membership dues, donations, and a grant from the IBM Corporation," Bloom says.

By the end of the year, Friends will have funded $30,000 to adult, youth and children's instructional programs, special book releases and community outreach. Friends has also donated $15,000 for equipment purchases to facilitate the public library's new Discover Studio, which Bloom describes as "a place for all ages to learn new technologies and applications such as 3D-printing."

The group also funded $13,000 to promote new cultural learning programs for adults. The programs brought Sunday music sessions and guest educational speakers to the Boca Raton Public Library, as well as monthly foreign film viewings, book clubs and the Friends Art Gallery at the Spanish River Library.

Friends depends on its community for support, and naturally it stays very involved with the people and organizations of Boca Raton. The Friends sponsor educational programs at the library for the children from Florence Fuller Child Development Centers. Friends often participates in the city's Junior League's Community Garden special events and regularly advocates on behalf of Boca Raton Public Library at city counsel meetings.

Members of "Friends of the Boca Raton Public Library" see their share of special perks, of course. The group holds an Annual Meeting Lunch where members can discuss plans for the group and review progress. It occasionally holds member recognition lunches, and provides members with pre-registration announcements detailing upcoming Friends events and programs.

Public libraries everywhere provide valuable services and vital educational opportunities. "We think it's important to enable our library to be the best resource for all members of our community, adults and children," says Bloom.

"In addition to the many library events we support and the programming we put on ourselves, we help fund our library's eBook lending program, Universal Class [free online classes taught by licensed instructors in many subjects] and Value Line, a financial/investment e-database."

The group has been a major influence in helping the library become a great educational and cultural service to the community. It's introduced cultural learning opportunities to countless adults and children alike, and it's strengthened the community's appreciation of its public library, something many towns and cities seem to take for granted these days.

Friends has improved its library in leaps and bounds, but it could always use more support. You can donate to "Friends of the Boca Raton Public Library" and find more information on how to lend a helping hand at the group's website, www.bocalibraryfriends.org.

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Christian Burney will soon graduate with a BFA in writing from the Savannah College of...

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