October 1 was my dad’s birthday, born 1910. Slightly younger is Jimmy Carter, our oldest surviving ex-president. There was a beautiful full moon, rising like the Great Pumpkin in the east. Fittingly, the next full moon is October 31. Pumpkins large and small are featured now in grocery stores, right next to the Christmas decorations. In the backwash of my brain I keep a memory of running around in ragged hobo clothes trick-or-treating under a golden full moon.
But October means so much more than pumpkins and Spiderman masks. The third was both National Boyfriend Day and Mean Girls Day. You may observe the twelfth as Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day, but unless you work for the federal government, it is not a real holiday, especially if you live in Indian Country and think about history or the current covid-19 rage.
The third week of October is National Friends of the Library Week, and in these depressingly trying times, we need all the friends we can get. Groucho Marx said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend—and inside of a dog is too dark to read.” My house is down to one goofy dog now, a loyal, people-loving, squirrel-chasing, independent minded mutt—but we are surrounded by books, even after giving away boxes full.
The Friends of the Berryville Library is currently doing big things. The application is in for incorporation as a non-profit organization and plans for the new library inch toward reality. The City of Berryville donated a parcel of land downtown, and the mayor of neighboring Eureka Springs, architect Butch Berry, has come up with the initial design. All we need now is a couple million bucks to make the library real.
Usually the Friends hold holiday bake sales and raffles as fall fundraisers; that ain’t happening this year. The Friends has pledged $10,000 annually to contribute to the new library.
Last summer’s Chicken Hop event was cancelled for 2020. So, we are racking our brains to find them dollars. We have a little booth at the Hidden Treasures Antique Mall across from Berryville Liquor—if you stop there for a six-pack, you can check out the brick-a-brac and artworks across the highway.
Seriously, the best way to raise money for the new library is to grow the membership. The Friends are a strictly volunteer organization to help the library which offers, in addition to books, movies and music, art projects, clubs for children, teens and grownups, resources for home-schoolers, farmers, gardeners, used books, free magazines, photocopying and fax services, and a perennially cheerful staff. They have ebooks if you prefer, and you have access to contests, seminars, discussion groups, etc., at the library website and via social media.
Carroll County libraries in Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest, and Madison County Libraries in Huntsville, Kingston and St. Paul, belong to a consortium called CAMALS. Although funding comes from the home counties, the CAMALS foundation runs the master website and provides cataloguing that individual branches might not afford, among other services. Improvements to any library benefits patrons of all six; right now you can request books, DVDs and other items from any, and pick them up at your local branch, and you have access to interlibrary loan to order from beyond this system.
Friends of the Library groups do not have any authority over how individual libraries operate; they only to serve to enhance. This month, the Berryville Friends will mount a mural that won a design contest and install benches memorializing two beloved patrons. Stop by the current location in the county office building to check these out. Mural and benches will move to the new facility when it opens.
During the pandemic, many folks want to support a favorite restaurant or charity. Becoming a friend of any library is more rewarding than “unfriending” political opposites on Facebook. Would you bid on an online auction or raffle or donate to a “virtual bake sale?” In the library I see friends from Eureka, Holiday Island or out of town: the library is absolutely democratic. Call ‘em up—be a friend.