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  • Writer's pictureIlena Alvarez

Friends of the Boca Public Library, Part III of the Series

We have arrived at the 3rd part of this series where I zone in on our Friends of the Boca Public Library. In light of the Friends' history from the previous 2 posts, you can probably gather that everything that makes up this wonderful organization is to be admired and applauded.

Formed in 1990 by local citizens, the Friends is a non-profit volunteer and membership organization that supports and enhances the value of the Boca Raton Public Library as it serves our community.

The Friends raises funds for adult and youth educational programs as well as library resources and special events. We raise funds through membership dues, donations, and bookstore sales.

Everything done by the Friends would not be possible without the endless hours of volunteers, including those on the Board, who work tirelessly to make something really special. In the end, Henry Ford said it best: "Coming together is beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success."

One of the most successful components of our Friends is the Bookstore. During the pandemic, the Board managed to successfully run an online store, one that was so efficient that others around the country are asking how they too can operate one.

It is easy to walk into the Boca Public Library and miss the bookstore nestled on the right. But therein lies a treasure trove of books, people, and stories. Here’s what our bookstore entrance looks like:

Yes, that's it! If you missed it before, you might've seen it if you got the munchies while inside the library. One of the many things we discuss as a Board is how to make this alcove stand out for patrons (and there's a new facelift coming soon). The bookstore, in many ways, is the beating heart of the Boca Friends. People donate to the bookstore and then such treasures are sold to the patrons. The sales help fund the many activities used to raise awareness and literacy in the community -- along with a zillion other things the Friends has accomplished over the years.

I want to tell you of a Saturday morning not too long ago. I dropped into the bookstore and instead of just perusing the aisles and occasionally saying hello to the volunteers willing to help with your selections, I took the time to get to know the volunteers. I asked why they volunteered at the bookstore, I asked what they enjoyed the most, and what was the last book they read.

Their answers ran the gamut of answers. Some were shy, and didn't want me to take their pictures. Others were happy to share and allow me to take their photos and even approved some candid shots I took. Here are some:

I'd tell you their names but I challenge you to instead come by and talk to them. Tell them you saw their pictures in this post. (Permission was retained before posting!) Hint: the wonderful lady on the left runs the classics section and the bookstore's classics section is absolutely solid.

How great is it that you can come into the library or the bookstore, and you never have to feel alone. And if talking and sharing isn't your thing, how about not feeling alone because you're surrounded by so many stories.

I mean, check out this mass market bookshelf. I could never read all of these in a lifetime.

Another great quality of the bookstore is that our volunteers take the time to curate the selections. This particular weekend, there was an emphasis on trains. On the top right corner the collage you will see a section of books for avid historians, train-enthusiasts, or someone looking to learn something new on the subject.

For those readers simply looking to pick up some fiction titles, the book ends are just as artfully curated. Don't forget to miss those stand-out titles.

The next time you're in the bookstore, don't forget that you, the patron, also make things possible.

The Board and volunteers make so many things possible including summer and year-long local reading programs, children’s fairs, and even a library van that brings books to those in the Boca community who aren't able to come in.

If you're further interested, check out this video made for the purposes of celebrating the last 30 years. Here's to 30 (and many) more.

I hope everyone is staying safe and well. Until next time.

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