Our Big 5-0!
As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Friends of the Chesterfield County Public Library from 2020-2021, we remained enthusiastic, forward-looking, and determined. We want to make a real difference for our libraries, communities, and families.
Accentuating the yearlong celebration was the Picture Book Fundraiser Campaign, our robust initiative which will replace the presently worn picture book collections with bright, new books for our youngest in all our county’s libraries.
We are proud of past and present accomplishments. We look forward to a vibrant future that will include all of you in support of libraries and literacy for Chesterfield.
Thank you all for making our “Big-5-0” possible.
Click here to see highlights of the Friends’ 2022 Annual Meeting, held on September 30, 2022, which included a celebration of the 50th Anniversary: FCCPL annual meeting photo highlights
Photo credits: Ricky Gibson, CCPL photographer
Welcoming Speech by Kathryn helen Geranios, Past President
Good evening! When I was asked to give the tribute for the 50th-plus years anniversary, I knew it was because I have been with the Friends long enough to have a deep respect for all in this organization and a wide- scope lens of our glorious past, vibrant present, and hopeful and energized future to benefit Chesterfield County and its wonderful public libraries. 1970 was the landmark year. The Friends of the Chesterfield County Public Library was incorporated and adopted by-laws. 1978 brought the emergence of the local Friends groups as part of the Friends of the Library. We also had a successful bond referendum for libraries that I recall with more to come. This was our first year in a continuous run of supporting summer reading programs. 1981 First Friends’ book sale was held. I was there and I am sure many of you as well. It was exciting. We were a library community. And, you know the rest of the story with our love of hosting book sales for the public both at branches and county wide. A brief glimpse of some stalwart pioneers: The Midlothian Library was named for Joan Girone. She was a founding member of the Friends and many of us remember her as the woman who could “break the glass ceiling” when she became the first woman to serve on the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors. The meeting room at LaPrade is dedicated to Erma C. Robins, a founding Friend. She served from 1964 to 1970 as a trustee for the Public Library System for Chesterfield County. She helped organize the first “Friends of the Library” in 1970. Midlothian’s meeting room is named for Col. Walter G. Muller. Ettrick-Matoaca Library is named for educator Elizabeth Anderson Cooper. She also was the founding member of Chesterfield County, VA “Friends of the Library.” 1993 & 1994 We received the Outstanding Recognition Award received from Virginia Library Association 1995 We received the Outstanding Recognition Award received from FRIENDS of Virginia Libraries. The same year, the Friends hosted a year-long celebration of FRIENDS’ 25TH Anniversary. Events included a bookmark contest and an essay contest that attracted over 500 students. Friends sponsored winners’ reception and developed an anthology based on the winning submissions. We received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Board of Supervisors and a special recognition letter from the Governor. 2 1997 Books are Friends anthology was published. The Award of Excellence presented by Friends of Virginia Libraries. This was also a moment of pride for me. I had chaired the 25th. Also, in 1997, our late legendary Friends president Mary Ann Harmon became an appointee to the Library of Virginia Board. With that, Mary Ann put Chesterfield Friends on the map. We were recognized in the greater Richmond area and through the Commonwealth. 1998 Eckerd Corporation recognized Friends’ leader, Mary Ann Harmon for outstanding community contribution. We received the Library Association’s Outstanding Friends award 1999 Launched celebration of Friends’ 30th Anniversary for 2000. Friends President, Mary Ann Harmon, was recognized with the Outstanding Friends Award by Virginia Public Library Directors’ Association. She was elected Vice President Programs, Friends of Virginia libraries, and Vice Chair of Library of Virginia. 2001 LaPrade Library was dedicated on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. The building was named the Mary Ann Harmon building. This was a beautiful day when all the stars in the universe seemed in alignment for Chesterfield and for us. I would like to recognize a gentleman who is here tonight, her husband and life partner, Ken Harmon. Ken, please stand to be recognized. Ken, as a friend of Mary Ann’s, to paraphrase the poet W. H. Auden and to add proper sentiment, I want everyone to know you were her North, her South, her East, her West. her morning’s song, and her evening’s sweet breath. We thank you for sharing Mary Anne with us. Let us give him our appreciation (applause). 2003 Tuesday, April 15: “Friends” Memorial Reception given for Ken Harmon and the families and many, many friends of Mary Ann. The reception was at the LaPrade Library (the Mary Ann Harmon building) at 2:30 PM to honor the life of Mary Ann Harmon. I remember that day as if it were a blur. I was now President although I never aspired to be that. Like many of you, I had lost my dear friend that Saturday past. As can be seen from her stunning portrait, Mary Ann Harmon came to us like a comet, once-in-a lifetime, and for many, her presidency and persona stand as unparalleled. The Friends history also suddenly changed with the coming of Mike Mabe as Library Director. I met Mike before the Memorial Reception and by his approaching, I figured out quickly I was the heir apparent. I give Mike credit for helping to move the compass of my deep grief to a committed leadership vision for supporting libraries and becoming the FCCPL president. We worked together diligently to change the trajectory of service and support to much that it is today. I also give credit to those who came to serve with me. Some of you are still here while others, cherished by me, have now passed, and I am grateful to all of you. My presidency which brought change ushered an era of inevitable creative conflict that led to progress and many programs available to all. Library programs engaged in collaboration with the schools. I am proudest of supporting the spirit and practice of equity throughout the libraries so that all Chesterfield could benefit from library 3 programs. I also was personally moved at a Board of Supervisors meeting preceding a highly successful Bond Referendum when speaking at the podium facing the Board of Supervisors, I asked those assembled to stand if they valued their libraries. To my awe, everyone stood, and it was as if the room was instantaneously electrified, filled with 100% support for our beloved libraries. I served for three two-year terms. In more recent years, we have reaped the benefits of the Friends under the excellent presidencies of Andrea Brown, followed by our male leader, Kahil Dotay and then, Andrea Brown, who reemerged again as president for another three-year term to lead us through the Covid shut -down period. We did not fold; we have moved forward, stronger than ever. A few highlights: Kahil Dotay injected the Friends of the Library with his brand of enthusiasm, creative foresight, and persuasive appeal to increase public awareness of our organization. Kahil Dotay served six years as president. During his presidency the Friends established an online presence including a fully functioning website, a newsletter, and social media accounts. The Friends became a well-recognized, respected, and influential organization throughout Chesterfield County and Virginia. The Friends tripled their newsletter subscribers from under 300 to over 1,000 during his tenure. Friends’ income increased through fundraisers and establishing an online bookstore where they sold donated books and other items. During this time the Friends recruited diverse volunteers to serve as board members and leaders; worked with the library system to bring in authors and programs that normally would not be available to the library. Access to those events and programming were free and open to the public. During his presidency, the Friends helped other library systems in Virginia who had struggling or non-existent Friends groups. Our current president Andrea Brown has served the following terms: President 2009 – 2011 (one term); 2017 – 2023 (3 terms). A branch manager for several years at another large library system, now retired, and endowed with a rich background in both public and private library work as well as having an extensive knowledge of community resources, Andrea Brown has continued to steer our ship. Of note: A new membership brochure was produced. Email blasts, e-newsletters, Facebook, and other social media are regularly used to promote fundraisers and inform the public of Friends activities and projects. 3 Really Big Book Sales in 2018, 2019, and 2022 at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds. These were major undertakings that required many hours of volunteer assistance. The funds earned from the sales were distributed to the Friends branch groups and to CCPL. 4 Prior to the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, the Friends supported outstanding authors brought in by CCPL and hosted receptions for Friends members where the authors could autograph copies of their books. During the COVID period, the Friends supported two authors engaged by CCPL, and hosted a reception for one of them following health protocols. Recent Notable Events include: Fundraiser for Personal Protective Equipment for CCPL staff working in the buildings during COVID. More than $4,000 was raised and donated to CCPL for this purpose. Fundraiser for Children’s Picture Books that raised $25,000, $5,000 over the goal which was the signature event of the 50 years. Virtual presentation by noted, award-winning children’s author Nick Bruel as part of the Picture Book campaign and emphasis on early childhood literacy with athome reading during COVID. He was delightful! Kelly Justice of Fountain Books was of invaluable help in arranging Mr. Bruel’s appearance. Fundraiser for Art Books, about $7,000 to date, to be placed at Chester and other libraries. Golf Tournament Fundraiser for Ettrick-Matoaca and Meadowdale Libraries, raising more than $11,300. Appreciation of dedicated staff continues as our priority for all branches and administrative levels. COVID brought us Zoom and with that, the picture book fundraiser and many other initiatives succeeded largely through our strong online presence. Today, all of us Friends—together– are considered by Chesterfield County government and community leaders as a strong advocate for library services, staff, and resources. Tonight, at our first in-person Annual Meeting since 2019, we celebrate our 50-plus years in supporting CCPL. Thank you.
-Tribute Delivered by Kathryn Helen Geranios with Remarks on behalf of President Andrea Brown, 30 September 2022, Central Library.