News provided by Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library
Some 50 members of the community met over coffee, tea and pastries at round tables with linen tablecloths and vases of fresh flowers at 10:30 a.m. on April 7 in the Library Community Room. They gathered to recognize contributions made by volunteer members of the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library. The five-member Library Board of Trustees and the Library sponsored the event. South Pasadena’s Union Bakery and Heirloom Bakery provided a buffet of morning sweets. Pandemic-required protocols had been relaxed, so guests chose not to wear masks.
Mayor Michael Cacciotti, City Councilmember Evelyn Zneimer and Former Mayor Bob Joe attended. City Manager Arminé Chaparyan and members of her staff also took part. Library Board of Trustees’ President Dean Serwin and Trustees Bianca Richards, Kenny Gross and F.J. Pratt were there, as well. In addition, former Trustees Brendan Durrett and David Uwins attended.
Some 60 adult volunteers with the Friends support the city’s public library year-round. Most work in the Friends’ Bookstore located in the Library. There they sort, price, shelve and sell donated books and materials. Some volunteers serve on the Restoration Concerts Committee, a group that organizes a popular musical series. Others are part of the organization’s board.
This is the first time since 2019 that the previously annual recognition event has been held. Pandemic-related restrictions and the closure of the Library made it impossible to schedule the occasion in 2020 and 2021.
Almost 22,000 hours were donated by adult and youth volunteers from 2019-2021, according to the event program. The Bookstore’s income totaled more than $78,000 during this time. Over 1,200 people attended the concert series.
Mayor Cacciotti welcomed the guests. The evening before at a City Council meeting he had declared the day as “Library Volunteer Recognition Day” in South Pasadena. He acknowledged the impact made by volunteers working with the Concerts Series, in the Bookstore, on the Board of Trustees and in other capacities.
“This is a perfect day for our celebration,” Library Director Cathy Billings told the audience, “given that it is National Library Week.” She explained that this is “an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role that libraries, librarians, library workers and volunteers play.”
Former Library Board of Trustees’ President Bianca Richards said, “Without volunteering, the system just doesn’t work.” She also said she volunteered with the Friends last year. “I helped out at the book sales,” she said, referring to several Friends’ used-book sales held during 2021, “ and I had a wonderful time. I finally got to meet so many of you.”
“The Library is very close and dear to me,” she said, “and I really appreciate all that you do for the Library.”
Volunteers of the Year
Before the shutdown, Volunteers of the Year were announced at each yearly event. This year, recipients of the award were chosen by the Friends’ board for 2019, 2020 and 2021.
LBT President Serwin announced the awardees. He named Nancy Sanchez, who serves as the Bookstore Finance Officer, as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year. She tracks and reports the Bookstore’s income and expenses, according to the event program. Ellen Torres is the 2020 Volunteer of the Year, he said. She has served in various roles on the Friends’ Board of Directors and is its current president and operations director. He announced that Karen Bell and Karen Weinstock, co-chairs of the Friends’ Bookstore, are the 2021 Volunteers of the Year.
Special Thanks to Retiring Leaders
Library Director Billings expressed her appreciation to Kay Rosser and Kathy Folsom, who stepped down in 2021 as longstanding co-chairs of the Restoration Concerts Committee.
Billings also recognized five women who retired from long-held Bookstore leadership positions: Mary Bart, Sue Hitchcock, Donna Potts, Marcia Sainer and Jane Schirmeister.
Not all of the retiring leaders were able to attend.
Members of the entire Restoration Concerts Committee and the Bookstore Committee were also recognized in the program.
The event featured South Pasadena-focused presentations, as well. Ron Koertge, the city’s Poet Laureate, read his 2019 poem, the Ode to South Pasadena, and described how he created it with suggestions from the community.
Keynote Speaker Olivia Radbill, adult services and local history librarian, described early South Pasadena history. She focused on the Rialto Theatre, the Cawston Ostrich Farm and the evolution of a public library. She displayed a series of historic photographs of these landmarks on a theatre-sized screen. She asked if anyone in the audience had frequented the library when it was still located in the original Carnegie Library, now the Library Community Room and an event space. Quite a few people raised their hands.
The Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to raise public awareness of the Library and funds for it. To join or donate, visit www.friendsofsopaslibrary.org.