Jill Van Acker, a member of the Friends of the Library Board, cleans and sorts books inside the book sale room at Princeton Public Library. Book sales have been canceled this year due to COVID-19, but the Friends are hopeful their most successful fundraiser for the library will be back on schedule next year.
Jill Van Acker, a member of the Friends of the Library Board, cleans and sorts books inside the book sale room at Princeton Public Library. Book sales have been canceled this year due to COVID-19, but the Friends are hopeful their most successful fundraiser for the library will be back on schedule next year.

PRINCETON — Oct. 18-24 is National Friends of the Library Week and while the Friends of the Princeton Public Library are limited on what they can do this year to recognize the week, members are reflecting back on all they are able to provide for the local library.

The Friends is a volunteer organization responsible for funding projects for the library throughout the year. The Princeton Friends are most known for their book sales, which usually take place three times out of the year. All funds raised during the sales go back into the library.

Throughout the years, the Friends have donated thousands of dollars and have funded various new additions to the library. Whether it’s an annual subscription to Ancestry.com or new computer chairs or wi-fi hot spots for patrons or even a new blender in the library’s cafe, all contributions help better the library for patrons and the community.

This past May, the Friends Board donated a $10,000 check to the library board from 2019 book sales alone.

This year, COVID regulations have put a halt on the book sales, which Karen Towns, president of the Friends of the Library Board, said is concerning. This year, almost no money has been raised through sales.

Towns said there have been a few books sold online, but not enough to really make a difference.

The Friends are hopeful to resume book sales in 2021.

“We’re all hoping for a better 2021,” Towns said.

The Friends are still collecting book donations this year, by appointment only. The next donation day is Oct. 21. Towns encourages donations as it helps replenished the shelves in the book sale room. To make an appointment for donations, call 815-876-6062.

Before COVID-19 hit, the Friends Board hosted a membership drive in February and now have 101 members, including 45 lifetime members.

Some members put in volunteer hours at the library each week. While COVID has changed these plans a bit this year, it’s important to note that volunteers usually put in about 25 hours per week cleaning and sorting through books and assisting with small tasks around the library.

Every year, the Friends also select books to donate to young area students. This year, they plan to continue the program and will donate new books to kindergartners through second grade at Princeton Elementary and Princeton Christian Academy. The books are read to students before they are given to them, and Towns said plans are still in the works on how they will do that this year amid the COVID pandemic. Most likely, the reading will take place virtually.

The Friends are always looking for more members and welcome anyone to sign up or check out the organization. More information can be found on the Princeton Public Library’s website at princetonpl.org/friends/.

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