The Book Drop: Friends of the Library garden party a sure sign of spring

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Aaron Francis is the chief librarian at the Creston Valley Public LIbrary.

Aaron Francis is the chief librarian at the Creston Valley Public LIbrary.

The return of the robins, the flowering of the forsythias, the protruding of the pussy willows — these are a few of the familiar signs of spring in the Creston Valley.

More recently, a new tradition has come to mark the advent of spring, the annual Friends of the Library garden party and book sale at Morris Flowers Garden Centre, held on the Sunday following Easter (April 27 this year).

More than just a book sale — though it is a fabulous book sale with thousands of books and magazines on display, all available by donation — the garden party also features homemade cakes from some of the best bakers in the valley, including Lorne and Angela Eckersley, whose magnificent works of art alone are worth dropping by for! This year, entertainment will be provided by Bellows and Bass, tea and coffee are available and there’s no better time to check out the new stock of plants and seedlings at the greenhouse.

Over the years, the Friends of the Library’s book sales and other fundraising initiatives have had an enormous impact on the life of the library in Creston. Founding members Judy Kirkby and Marion Lloyd describe how the focus of the fundraising has changed, “When we started in 1997, our focus was on raising money for a new building. But as time went on, our focus changed to just making the building we had bearable.”

At the time, the library, having been kicked out of its previous home next to Swan Valley Lodge, was housed in emergency quarters in the former Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall.  “We bought a hot water tank, a furnace, just basic needs to help the library survive through a really difficult time,” Judy recalls. When the library finally moved to its current digs in 2006, the Friends kicked in $30,000 to support the move.

Nowadays, the Friends operate more like a public service. “We help to recycle books, giving unwanted books a second chance,” Marion explains, “while also helping the library financially with special projects,” such as purchasing a new meeting room projector and tables for the front of the library, supplementing Summer Reading Club costs, and more.

As new retirees flock to the valley to take advantage of our mild climate, spectacular surroundings and friendly small-town atmosphere, the Friends see an opportunity to both attract new members and provide a great way to welcome newcomers to the valley. “Joining the Friends is a really nice, non-pressure way to get to know people in the community. Our meetings are short, everyone is welcome and we have a lot of fun together,” explains Judy. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at the library, and newcomers are welcome to drop in.

In addition to the Friends of the Library, the library offers myriad volunteer opportunities for folks of all ages and backgrounds. We will work with you to find tasks that are appropriate to your interests and skills. Our current volunteers range from AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students from Prince Charles Secondary School to former chief librarians and library board chairs. Some volunteers come for a day, while others have stayed for over 40 years!

The Friends of the Library garden party will take place at Morris Greenhouse from noon-3 p.m. April 27. We look forward to seeing you there!

Aaron Francis is the chief librarian at the Creston Valley Public Library.