By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
The board meeting room in the Wood County District Public Library is filling up.
New treasures arrive every day, said Library Director Michael Penrod. That includes a grill and a bicycle. There’s hand-crafted wooden box by John Calderonello and glass by Dominick Labino and Joel O’Dorisio.
Hidden among them are gift certificates from numerous local business.
The items are arriving in advance of the 10th Annual Library Benefit at Schedel Arboretum and Gardens, Thursday, July 19, 6-8 p.m.
Attendees will also feast on hors d’oeuvres catered by Swig’s and tour the gardens. The price of a ticket is $100 and only 100 are sold. Tickets are available at the library.
The focal point is the live auction, said Clif Boutelle, president of the Library Foundation, sponsor of the fundraiser. The bidding gets “very spirited.” People enjoy trying to outbid each other.
Items also include a week at a Florida Gulf Coast condo, a family portrait session with Cheryl Hagemeyer, and golf with BGSU coach John Powers, either a 45-minute lesson or a nine-hole round.
Then there are Sue Shank’s cookies, Boutelle said, which “seem to be very popular.”
Shad Ridenour returns as the auctioneer.
Attendees aren’t there trying to get an item on the cheap, Penrod said. Rather they bid enthusiastically. That spirit is fueled by an understanding of what the library contributes to the community and a desire to help it continue its mission.
The purpose of the Schedel benefit is to raise money to buy books, both printed and ebooks.
Last year $116,000 was raised. Penrod said that money does not replace money from the library’s levy or state funding. It supplements that funding.
Boutelle said the fundraising is a way of thanking the community for its support of the library.
The money raised has allowed the library to spend $442,000 on materials last year.
Boutelle said the goal is always set at $75,000. They never want to take the generosity of those who attend for granted.
That generosity starts, said Penrod, with the 15 members of the foundation board who reach out to friends and business associates to get the auction items
Penrod said those efforts were “a blessing.”
The Schedel fundraising started at the initiation of Bob and Patricia Maurer in 2009. The deepening recession was starting to take a toll on the library budget. So the Foundation, which was created in 1994, decided to stage the auction.
“It’s allowing us to make a tangible difference in serving the community,” Penrod said.
That allows the library to buy enough print and ebooks, which are more expensive per unit, to meet demand. Even with a popular best seller, the goal is for patrons get their requested book within five days.
Penrod said he’s competing with Amazon to meet patrons reading needs.
And as director, he instructs the librarians in charge of collections to maintain a non-fiction print collection as complete as what existed before the internet.
Peoples still want books on writing resumes and finding a job, or finding new recipes. Travel books, he said, continue to be very popular.
Penrod said when he attends library conferences he’ll go to sessions on fundraising – a topic not taught in library school – and he’s yet to see a library the size of the Wood County that has such a successful fundraiser.
At the end of the night, he’s “speechless.”
“I’m amazed by the selfless generosity of all those who put this together.”