‘Friends’ help keep county’s library collections current

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Faced with a 10 percent mandated budget cut, keeping up with the latest books and subscriptions could be tough for the Indian River County Library System.

But at least one group is helping to make ends meet, despite the financial challenges the county must deal with – the Friends of the Library.

Tom Frame, general services director for Indian River County, said the library budget is expected to be trimmed by more than $250,000.

Some of those cut funds will come out of the funds reserved for updating the system’s collections, Frame said.

“We try not to touch that money very much,” he said, explaining that the system looks for other places to make cuts so the collection doesn’t become outdated. “We want to keep the collection current.”

If not for groups like the Friends of the Library, Frame said the library system would have had to take more from its collection funds to make up the prescribed budget cuts.

“They are significantly large contributors,” Frame said of the group’s financial and even volunteer assistance. “We can’t say enough about what they do for us,” later adding, “They are irreplaceable.”

The Friends of the Library operates The Used Book Depot on 14th Avenue, just north of 16th Street in Vero Beach, as a continuous fund-raiser for the library system.

This week, the group is holding a special sale – half-price cookbooks, gardening books and all videos – through Saturday, July 3.

They average a couple special sales each month – usually selling whatever category is currently overstocked, according to steering committee member Jane Dawe.

The proceeds from the sale will go toward purchasing equipment, support of the children’s programs, and other financial support of the county’s libraries.

The system is “in such dire need,” Dawe said, due to the budget cuts.

The Friends of the Library has been responsible for helping the county purchase copiers, laminating machines, printers, computers and even the technology carts used to wheel around the computers, among other pieces of equipment.

“The equipment over the years has gotten rather expensive,” Dawe said.

Aside from buying equipment, the Friends also help with book leasing, which allows the library system to lease books instead of buying them.

Dawe explained that it can be cheaper for the county to lease multiple copies of newly released books and sell them back to the supplier when the books are no longer in demand.

The Used Book Depot is all volunteer-run and is open six days a week.

“We’re always looking for volunteers,” Dawe said.

Volunteers help in sorting and shelving books, along with assisting customers in finding what they’re looking for.

The second-hand bookstore houses more than 22,000 books and other materials, according to Dawe.

“They come in faster than we can sort them,” she said of material donations.

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Looking for a book and help the libraries at the same time?

Where: The Used Book DepotLocation: 1670 14th Ave., Vero BeachHours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through SaturdayPhone: (772) 562-0043On the Web: www.TheUsedBookDepot.org

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