For nine years, the Friends of the Library has put on the Tea and Treasures Brunch to help raise funds for the San Benito County Free Library and its services. With about 100 people in attendance this year, the March 17 brunch at San Juan Oaks raised over $4,000 through ticket sales and a silent auction of locally donated items.
Susan Logue, president of the Friends of the Library, said the purpose of the brunch was threefold.
“There is public awareness and education on the library,” she said. “Second, it’s a good time. It’s a social event for a lot of people. Third, it raises money for the library.”
Volunteer Rachelle Escamilla stressed that third point when she described the organization as the “nonprofit arm of the library.”
“It gets grants and is also allowed to fundraise for the library,” Escamilla said. “The money goes toward programs at the library.”
Services currently offered at the library include an adult literacy program, summer youth reading programs, story time, passport services, a book mobile and technology tutorials.
Friends of the Library treasurer Rebecca Salinas stated, “We want to develop a literate, informed community. [The library] is a place where everybody is equal.”
The use of the library and its limitations were brought up at the Sunday brunch. Friends of the Library members explained the need to expand the facility and its resources to accommodate more users.
This point was supported by a presentation by librarian Erin Baxter on library statistics. According to Baxter, last year alone the library offered 660 classes and programs with 21,134 attendees; its public access computers were used by patrons more than 28,000 times.
Francesca Giannotta, a junior at San Benito High School, attended the event at the invitation of her aunt. She said she looked forward to learning more about the library’s offerings.
“It’s inspired me to go to the library and take some craft classes,” Giannotta said.
Librarian Nora Conte summed up the sentiment of the crowd in her talk:
“Strong libraries equal strong communities.”