Here are the eight recipients of $1,000 scholarships handed out Monday evening, with the colleges they will attend in parentheses: In the front row, from left, are Rio Rancho High School seniors Elijah Montaño (UNM), Alexandra Jackson (UNM), Marissa Creech (CNM) and Adele Baum (ENMU). In the back row are FOLL President Lorraine Garvey, RRHS librarian Jeff Tolley, and Cleveland High seniors Julia Winn (NMSU), Victoria Shaner (UNM), Emily McNichols (CNM) and Daniel Bailey (CNM), and CHS librarian Deena White.
It had been 2019 the last time the Friends of Libraries and Literacy – and back then, known as Friends of the Library – had held their annual luncheon.
About four-dozen members and volunteers showed up at the May 8 meeting, held in a Rio Rancho church.
There was a lot to catch up with. Back before the pandemic, which led to the cancellation of subsequent meetings until this month, the meetings had been in a room of Loma Colorado Main Library, a few steps from the book store there.
That’s where the volunteers worked, selling books to support children’s summer programs in the Loma Colorado Main Library and the Esther Bone Memorial Library. The Friends happily accepted book donations, sorted and priced them, and would have hundreds of buyers show up at the monthly sales.
After a falling out with the City of Rio Rancho, and the unilateral breaking of a 2018 memorandum of understanding – basically what had been a 37-year partnership — by the city, the Friends pulled up stakes and, wanting to keep literacy thriving, found a larger space to do their thing, mainly sell books, plus DVDs, CDs, puzzles and magazines.
The reconstituted Friends of Libraries and Literacy has thrived since the pandemic restricted their sales, with the FriendShop, at the north end of the Target-Albertsons shoping center on NM 528, open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An estimated 300 members and volunteers are on the rolls now.
It’s a great place to meet and make new Friends. (friendsoflibrariesandliteracy.org)
“The community support has been incredible,” said former president and current treasurer Joe Driear, estimating 72 volunteers working to staff the FriendShop. Sales volume has been on a a steady incline, to about $1,500 a week – and peaking at the occasional BOGO – buy one, get one – events.
“We just keep going up and up and up,” Driear said.
Volunteers also cull through donations seeking more-valuable books, then sell them on amazon.com and eBay, which netted almost $7,500 in 2022.
Proceeds got to such worthy causes as Abrazos Family Services; the Martha Liebert Public Library in Bernalillo, where FriendShop Too is upstairs; reading programs in Rio Rancho schools; eight $1,000 scholarships for as many seniors at Cleveland and Rio Rancho high schools; and now the Dolly Parton Inspiration Library.
Beg your Parton?
Everyone knows who Dolly Parton is, but they may not know of her dream to inspire youngsters through reading.
“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister,” Parton is quoted on her website (imaginationlibrary.com). “Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”
In 1995, Parton launched this effort, “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library,” to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee. Her vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month.
All 50 states and four countries are participating in this reading initiative, which provides free books on a monthly basis for newborns through 5-year-olds.
More than 2.3 million children in the U.S. are registered, and more than 204 million books have been gifted.
Eight-ten weeks after a parent registers a child, the books start arriving at the home, continuing until the child turns 5, or if the family moves. The first book is always the children’s classic, “The Little Engine That Could.”
This initiative recently included Sandoval County, and the Friends of Libraries and Literacy is coordinating it.
Registration forms are available at The FriendShop or at imaginationlibrary.com. Friends pays $15 per Sandoval County child a year and is seeking donors to contribute.
The Friends’ goal is to register 1,000 county youngsters by the end of the year; through April, that number was at 439. The overall goal is to have more than 5,000 county participants in five years.
Friends is reaching out to smaller communities and pueblos in Sandoval County to obtain more participants.