Wentworth Library

Supporting the Local Library: Friends of the Wentworth Library

Thanks to Mississippi Valley Montessori School for their support. They’re scheduling tours for the 2023-24 school year! Email info@mvmontessori.org for more information.

If you love the library, support it. That’s the mission of Friends of the Wentworth Library.

“I, too, love a library. I love to read,” said Karen Griffin, one of the original members and former president. “I just thought, what a wonderful community organization.”

Purpose: The nonprofit partners with Wentworth Library to support events, promote programing, and give support beyond the library’s budget.

  • “That’s our mission statement—supporting and enhancing library programs,” said Griffin. “If there’s something we can do to help with money or volunteers, we’ll do it.”

History: Friends of the Wentworth Library started as a conversation with five or six people back in 2013. Former Wentworth Library Branch Manager Murray Wilson was instrumental in getting the group started. In 2014, the group officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization.

Impact

Over the years, Friends of the Wentworth Library has invested over $17,000 in library programs, materials, and more:

  • Supporting the kids’ summer reading program.
  • Equipment and games for the teen video game section.
  • Children’s books to give away with the summer meals program.
  • Memory kits.
  • Project maker materials for STEM program.
  • Library furniture.
  • Speakers and events.

The group is funded primarily by their semi-regular used book sale. Nearly 100 members make up the group, and they easily fill 40 volunteer slots at each sale.

Used book sale hosted by the Friends of the Wentworth Library.

Current Challenges and Future Plans

Pandemic upheaval: As with most things, the COVID-19 pandemic upset the plans of the Friends of the Wentworth Library. In addition to canceling book sales, policy changes with Dakota County Libraries meant no more book storage for upcoming sales. Friends of the Wentworth Library also paused membership dues.

Big dreams: They also had dreams of a larger project at Wentworth Library to give the organization more of a physical presence, such as adding a pergola, landscaping, picnic tables, or interior art installation. The pandemic interrupted those ideas, which are now waiting for the upcoming renovation of Wentworth Library.

But their biggest current need? New members willing to volunteer and help run the organization.

  • Fresh faces: “We need new people with new ideas,” said Griffin. “It’s always nice to have new people in the organization because they bring a different perspective. They bring new ideas. I think that’s really important.”
  • Leadership needs: The group currently lacks a president and secretary, and the vice president wants to step down.
  • Passing on knowledge: “There’s lots and lots of experience available to continue to work with and mentor people who can come on board,” said Tom Thieman, who currently serves as the group’s treasurer.
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The Value of the Library

“Ever since the internet caught on, people have been claiming printed materials are going to go away, and that hasn’t come to pass and I don’t think it will,” said Thieman.

Libraries have changed in recent years, but being a resource for the community has remained constant.

  • Resources: “It’s a safe place,” Griffin said. With computers, internet access, meeting rooms, and people available to answer questions, libraries offer a wealth of resources. “They’re really branching out to the needs of the community.”
  • Books for kids: During a recent book sale, Thieman noticed the children’s books proved especially popular. The children’s DVDs, not so much. “The kids get enough staring at the TV,” Thieman said. “I think one of the best things the library can do is introduce children to hardcopy books.”
  • Diversity of patrons: “I am truly amazed at the variety of people [who use the library],” said Griffin. “Lots of nationalities, old people, young people, teenagers—lots of teens! That made me feel good. I just think every age group benefits from having the library in their community.”
  • Community space: “The library serves as that community meeting place,” Thieman said.

How to Get Involved

You can follow Friends of the Wentworth Library on Facebook and if you’re interested in volunteering, reach out to Tom Thieman with your name, email, and phone number. You’ll be added to their email list and get updates about opportunities.

Friends of the Wentworth Library logo

“We have absolutely wonderful volunteers. It doesn’t matter what we’ve asked for over the years, they are there.” said Griffin. “That’s really the heart of the organization—all the volunteers.”

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