Getting By With A Little Help From The Friends

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by Mike Bisceglia

Seacoast Scene, May 30, 2012

From 3rd Row...starting at the left...Mary Ertl, Diane Kennedy, Sandra Kent, Sunny Kravitz, Ginger Ellenwood, Paulina Shadowens. Middle Row: Wendy Rega, Judi Park, Lynn Blume, Diane Keyes, Wendi Lewis. First Row: Patricia Walker, Shelley Chandler, Sue Hughes, Kim Leuven, Kris Sawyer. And of course...Amanda Reynolds Cooper, Library Director, on the floor.

The goals were clear cut: (1) increase the use of basic library facilities and (2) arrange all possible types of interesting and cultural programs. With that mandate in mind, the Friends of the Hampton Public Library became a reality on Sunday, February 2, 1958. Mrs. Olive Ring was elected as the group's first president.

At that time, there was a small contingent of Friends. But, times have changed. Today, some 300+ very active volunteers joyfully work to fulfill the Friends' two basic goals and to help supplement the full array of activities and state-of-the-art materials available at the (now) Lane Memorial Library.

"Once a person obtains a library card," said Shelley Chandler, President, "He or she can take advantage of so many offerings. The Library has everything from Children's story times to complimentary computer training, and from tax help to museum passes. There are guest speakers on just about any topic and movies to check out or view in the Library's Weston Theater. The Library truly is the hub of the community, and we really do listen to our patrons. If there is a service or activity that can be offered, we will do our best to work with the Library staff to make it a reality."

How can so much be offered to so many? Simply put, the answer is, fundraising.

"We put the 'fun' back in 'fundraising'," said Kris Sawyer, chairperson of the Friends' semi-annual book sales. "A great deal of effort goes into the organization of our sales, but we do have a great time. As a result of these sales, the Friends generate some serious money. And, we're doing some very special things as a result. We have bi-annual children's book sales for the Centre School first graders, as well as a Valentine Tea for children 3-8 years of age. We've also recently added some very colorful paintings on the walls in the children's library by Tom Poirier, a local artist."

"Of late," said Judi Park, "The Friends have put up the two-way sign located on the corner of the Library's lot. And, just inside the front door, patrons can now find the Friends' bulletin board with all of the information everyone should know about the exciting things going on in their own library. I've been involved in the Friends for over 25 years. My daughter enjoyed all of the library programs when she was younger. Now, she is grown and moved away, but I still continue to help. I'm glad I do."

"I worked for the Library and retired," said Sandra Kent. "But, I wanted to remain involved and supportive. I love the fundraising activities. They're great!"

"Who doesn't love the library?" chuckled Lynn Blume, membership chairperson. "When my family moved to Hampton in 1994, I would bring my children to all of the events here. I fell in love with the people, books, and even the smell of the library! The Library is so many things to so many people . . . a senior citizens' center, a town theater, an arts and crafts center, a teen social center, and so much more. It really is the best!"

"Constantly, there seems to be something new and very exciting taking place here," said Shelley. "I'm frequently telling people to check out offerings and events on the Library's website:, or the Friends' website: Now, folks can even find us on Facebook at: The events, activities and services here are accessible to all, but we are doing our best to make them even more so."

Diane Kennedy said, "Why not become a Friend? After all, look at everything the Library offers the community. It seems only fair that we become Friends and give just a little back."

"We are constantly looking for new Friends," said Ginger Ellenwood. "Some people have the misconception that once they have a library card, they are automatically a Friend. They have to take one more step. They have to join. Once they do, they will have the time of their lives. They also have to understand that being a Friend doesn't make them a Library trustee. Trustees are about governing; Friends are all about fundraising . . . and, the Library is all about Hampton. We are trying to show that Hampton is all about the Library. After all, being a Friend is a good thing, right? So, let's all be Friends!"

Diane Keyes, Past President of the Friends, helps to motivate members of the Friends to achieve more for the benefit of the Lane Library.

Shelley Chandler and Kris Sawyer put the "fun" back into "fundraising" as they put their heads together to plan for the upcoming book sale.

Wendy Rega, Paulina Shadowens and Wendi Lewis delightedly pose in front of a Childrens' Library wall painting by The Pear Tree's Tom Poirer. The painting was commissioned by the Friends of the Lane Library.

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