Vashon Friends of the Library is gearing up for its biggest fundraiser, “Swingin’ in the Stacks,” next month. The two-night event on Feb. 7 and 8 helps to fill the coffers of the VFOL, enabling the library to provide free programming to the community.
It is a fundraiser described as part competition and connection, part party in the library, with a mini-putt golf course that winds around the stacks of books at the library. The fundraiser will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 and 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 — with Friday night’s events for ages 21 and older only. Tickets are $5 general and $2 for children younger than 5 (Saturday only). Tickets are available at the door on the nights of the benefit only.
According to the King County Library System website, “Friends are critical to the success of public libraries. Friends of the Library … are volunteer groups of citizens whose shared mission is to promote, advocate for, support and enhance the work of their local libraries.”
Lisa Lucke has been a volunteer with VFOL for the past five years. As a retired English teacher and public administrator, Lucke understands the importance of accessibility of programs that promote literacy and learning for both youth and adults and the funds that are required to enable these programs.
“The funds we [VFOL] raise go directly to the librarians who plan the programs each year,” Lucke wrote in an email. “Although they receive funding from KCLS, there is a gap between what the county can provide and the vision that the two librarians have for the many programs they plan.”
Erin Rozewicz, the adult and teen librarian, and Amelia Lincoln Ecevedo, children’s services librarian, are both thankful for Lucke. All three are focused on providing value to the community.
Rozewicz and Lincoln Ecevedo organize well-known speakers’ visits to the library which is funded by KCLS. Other programming includes movie nights, teen nights, infant and young children events, and the popular “May the Fourth Be With You” event on May 4 for all ages. These events are provided free for the community, largely through VFOL funding.
Rozewicz’s biggest joy is providing an inclusive, safe and enriching environment for teens.
“The programs are chosen by their [the teens] requests since they are the authority on what teens want to do,” Rozewicz wrote in an email. “I love to see the ownership that happens through this. … If we can’t show the teens the library has value, why as adults would they support an institution that made them feel unwelcome or unwanted?”
Lincoln Ecevedo just celebrated her tenth anniversary with the Vashon Library. As a life-long islander, she knows the importance of providing a cost-free place where community members can create and connect. Many children’s programs charge for programs that may be out of reach for some. The VFOL enables the library to cover these costs so every family has access to the programs.
“At after school programs, I see kids practicing collaboration skills and learning about the world, but also forming new friendships and connecting with classmates in new ways,” she said. “Having busy hands often opens the door to conversations about everything from books to events of that day to world events.”
The library also offers programs for newborns and infants, like story and playtime.
“It’s a really amazing thing for me to meet tiny newborns in storytime and watch them grow and hit milestones,” Lincoln Ecevedo said. “One week a child will be sitting up looking around for the first time, and another week someone else will sing a little bit of a song I taught them on the way out the door.”
This connection is not limited to youth, she added.
“I love to see adults trading advice and support while the babies wave an egg shaker or stack blocks. The Vashon Library is so much better for having a dedicated and supportive Friends Group,” Lincoln Acevedo said.
Deirdre Petree, a former VFOL president, is still involved in setting up book sales. In an email to The Beachcomber, she wrote about the fundraising efforts.
“It’s all affordable at $1 for hardbacks, CDs & DVDs, 50 cents for paperbacks and 25 cents for children’s books,” Petree wrote. “Best of all, you can return them to the ongoing bookshelf, make some funds for Library programs and give someone else a chance for a good read.”
Rozewicz said the library is “not just a repository for books.”
“It’s a communal space where sometimes it’s lively and bustling; other times it’s quiet,” she wrote in an email. “We are here to fill in the gaps in the community we see service-wise.”
Correction: This story was updated to reflect the times the fundraiser is talking place and the cost to attend.