Friends of Library looking forward to new home

Sue Jepsen, president of the Huntington Friends of the Library, stands with the Huntington City-Township Public Library’s popcorn popper that the Friends of the Library bought the library to use.
Sue Jepsen, president of the Huntington Friends of the Library, stands with the Huntington City-Township Public Library’s popcorn popper that the Friends of the Library bought the library to use. Photo by Jessica Williams.

Originally published Dec. 10, 2009.

With a new home in the works, Huntington's Friends of the Library President Sue Jepsen has something to look forward to, even though her next big event isn't until June 2010.

Jepsen has been with Friends for 17 years, and once the new library addition is complete, her branch of the national organization will have a small spot to call its own to host its two large book sales each year, one of which just wrapped up this past weekend - the Holiday Book Boutique.

But the other sale, the one the week before Heritage days, is larger. Jepsen says that one year, the group had over 25,000 books.

Before the sale was moved into the library's now-gone annex building, Jepsen says, it was held down the main hall of the library. That didn't allow for much time for people to donate. When it was moved into the bigger building, it just "ballooned" from there, allowing people to donate all year long, she says.

This past June's sale was held in a conference room off of the library's Market Street entrance as the annex building was torn down to make room for the addition.
So with the two annual sales, the Friends of the Library raises money to give to the library in order to fund the rewards participants receive while being involved in library activities, such as the summer reading program. Jepsen says that it's against the law for the library, which is funded by taxes, to use taxpayer money to reward the participants, so the Friends group raises that money.

"We're mostly supporting (the library) in terms of money, not hands-on stuff," Jepsen says.

The library also provides a location for job trainings via computers and promotes literacy for all ages through its activities, Jepsen says.

"That's one of the reasons we're so proud to be associated with this library because they do such a good job," she explains.

She says that she has lived in towns in Michigan, Missouri and Illinois and Huntington's library exceeds the rest.

"This library outshines the libraries in those other (places I've lived), 10 times over."

Another thing the group does is provide "happy packs" for local children who are hospitalized. The packs contain books and activities that the children can use to keep them occupied during their visit, Jepsen adds.

An additional fundraising opportunity is leading a magazine recycle booth at the library, where people can donate magazines that are brought in by other people. The magazines are cheap for readers, and Friends of the Library make between $13 and $15 a month from it.

Things they do and things the library does help a wide array of Huntington citizens.

" ... It's good for the whole community. There isn't anybody who can't benefit from what is done here (at the library)," Jepsen says.

The new addition is to be finished early 2010, and Jepsen sees the expansion as a way to adapt.

"The fact that we keep adapting to the needs of the community and providing what we can is priceless."
The first Friends of the Library newsletter in Huntington came out in 1987 after the first addition was completed.

At the start, about 230 people called themselves members, but their numbers hover over 100 presently. There are three meetings a year and each meeting lasts about an hour.

Jepsen thinks it's a win-win for people who like to read because if a person helps out by sorting books for the sales, he or she can get one free book for the Holiday Boutique and two free books from the June sale, and also get first selections before the sales.

Jepsen encourages interested people to join.
"Anybody who thinks that reading and education is important, this is a great place to hang your hat and help us out," she says.

Memberships will be sought after in May for a small fee (or one could choose to become a benefactor) and last a year. Forms are available at the library and more information about Friends of the Library is available at

"The importance of education, it's the basis of everything," Jepsen says.