Local folks and seasonal residents of the Hancock County peninsula community of Brooklin certainly do love their Friend Memorial Public Library, which is why its online and in-house annual Love Your Library Silent Auction and Valentine Sale has become such a successful fundraiser.
“It’s very much a community project,” auction co-chairperson Pat Fowler told me as she brushed aside her title and emphasized the group effort that makes it possible.
“I just catch the pieces,” she said of little things that pop up now and then that require her attention.
She said a good, solid group of “a couple dozen people” works on getting sponsors and donations for this event that, last year, raised nearly $12,000.
Now in its third year as an online auction, the whole thing began around Valentine’s Day four years ago as a way to celebrate the library and take action during that economic downturn when the stock market negatively affected so many people and organizations, not the least of which was the FMPL endowment.
“All of a sudden it didn’t look like we were getting much from it and the value was plummeting,” Pat said. “That was when we first came up with the Love Your Library idea; asking for little donations.”
Those little donations were $5 for the librarian to make a valentine to grace the library in honor or memory of someone.
Guess what? In a community whose population hovers around 800 permanent residents, more than 300 valentines were made.
You can visit the library 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12, to make your $5 donation for a hand-created valentine or to see the auction items.
More information is also available by calling the library at 359-2276 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, with the online auction, not only locals but also seasonal residents can participate in this fundraiser, and the offerings are fabulous.
Bidding online and in-house opened Tuesday, Feb. 1, and continues through Saturday, Feb. 12.
All you need do is go to www.biddingforgood.com/friendml and scroll down to view the items.
You also can get to the site by visiting www.friendml.org.
In addition to local notices, online information and other publicity outlets, Pat told me the library sent out nearly 1,000 printed invitations to make people aware of the auction, which features about 90 online items and 80 in-house items.
If you bid successfully online, arrangements will be made for you to acquire your items.
“Everything is specified” about how it can be obtained, Pat explained, adding that most of the bidders usually have Brooklin connections and the hosts are willing to hold items for when it is convenient for them to be picked up.
Pat also is understandably pleased that sponsors came forth to support the online bidding process.
The bidding site, she explained, is a commercial website that hosts auctions for charitable organizations, which is why sponsorships are so important.
“Because of our sponsors, every dollar you bid in the auction goes straight to the library,” she said.
If you are a fan of the late author and former Brooklin resident E.B. White, you will be pleased to know that his legacy continues as the library’s theme this year, and offers you not only the opportunity to bid on one of his wooden train whistles from his own treasure chest but also offers a tour of his saltwater farm, which is the setting for “Charlotte’s Web.”
I also had the pleasure of speaking with children’s author Ellen Booraem, who is part of the group hosting this event, and was pleased to note she is offering two of her children’s books for the auction, “The Unnameables” and “Small Persons with Wings,” and also a one-hour, in-person meeting with her for an aspiring young writer of any age.
Ellen is certainly one who loves her library, speaking fondly of this “tiny little gem of a building that won awards when it was renovated.”
Brooklin’s library, she said, “really is the heart of this town and this little peninsula.”
“I go in there regularly. I practically live there.”
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; email@example.com; 990-8288.