By LANCE ARMSTRONG, Valley Community Newspapers writer
Since its establishment seven years ago, the Pocket-Greenhaven Friends of the Library has reached many milestones.
From its earliest times of advocating for what eventually became Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library at 7335 Gloria Drive to replenishing new books and materials on the library’s shelves, the group has maintained an active and growing membership.
Currently the community’s Friends group has 182 memberships – a statistic that ranks it fourth in the number of Friends volunteers within the Sacramento Public Library’s 30 branches.
Although many people have joined the local Friends and are well aware of the group’s purpose, others remain curious about its activities and history.
Vibrant library promotors
The Friends of the Sacramento Public Library is self-described as “a member-supported, nonprofit organization that advocates, fundraises and provides critical support for the Sacramento Public Library, branch libraries and related literacy and educational programs.”
New members welcome
Kathi Windheim, president of the Pocket-Greenhaven Friends, said that although the local Friends group has many dedicated and energetic members, the organization is always seeking new members.
“In today’s economy, it is essential to continue to grow the (number of) Friends memberships to keep the programs plentiful and free at our library,” Windheim said. “The goal in annual memberships is for the library’s programs to become sustainable from our membership funds. Memberships are actually quite affordable. For example, a family membership is only $20 a year. We (the Friends board) invite anyone interested in supporting our community library to join.”
Annual memberships are also available at the following levels: $75/patron, $35/business or association; $15/individual and $10/youth.
Applications to join the Pocket-Greenhaven Friends are located in the library’s lobby and can be turned into any of the branch’s librarians.
Early library dream
Certainly in highlighting the history of the local Friends group, it is important to begin with its efforts to assist in the establishment the community’s library.
The local Friends group, which was founded on May 4, 2005, originated through the dream of former Councilmember Robbie Waters, who recognized a need for a library in the Pocket-Greenhaven area.
In an interview with this publication, Waters recalled his earliest efforts to have a library established in this community.
“My first day as a city councilman back in 1994 was to try to get a library on that piece of property (where the library is presently located),” Waters said. “The school district at the time wanted that piece of property for a junior high. And so, I worked really hard with them, but I could never get them to do a joint-venture with us, like there is now, until they decided, basically, that there were no more junior highs to speak of in the Sacramento school district. (The trend of the new schools) was K through 8.”
The joint-venture between the adjacent School of Engineering and Sciences and a new library presented an ideal situation, since it is a state law that every school must have a library.
FOL recommended library name
During the process of bringing a library to the community, a name for this future institution was recommended by the Pocket-Greenhaven Friends.
The name, Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library, was submitted and approved by the city council.
In commenting about the library’s name, Waters said, “It’s the most humbling thing that’s happened to me other than the birth of my kids and my 52 years of marriage. To have something named after me before I pass was very, very humbling.”
Friends campaign for library
In discussing the efforts to bring a library to the Pocket-Greenhaven community, Windheim recalled that after four years of presenting information about the library at government and neighborhood meetings, conducting fundraisers and gathering community support, a groundbreaking for the library was finally held on May 30, 2008.
“During the four years before the groundbreaking, we went through a series of meetings with the city council and school board to talk about the joint-use library and school and the roles of the different partners,” Windheim said. “We had (an artistic) rendering of the library and a portfolio. Importantly, during those four years, we had the full support of then-Senator Darrell Steinberg, Assembly member Dave Jones and Ralph Pettingell, the director of the city’s park and recreation department. We also had an annual book sale at the Elks lodge (on Riverside Boulevard), where they let us use the parking lot for free, and their grand ballroom for our ‘A Novel Idea Dinner’ at no rental cost each fall. Other service clubs and businesses, including the Pocket Rotary and Amy Eddy’s Curves, helped us tremendously. We raised about $65,000 from the book sales, annual dinners and other fundraisers.”
Although Proposition 81 – aka “Californians for Literacy” – a $600 million statewide bond measure to fund library construction, failed to pass in 2006, those working toward the establishment of a Pocket-Greenhaven library had a “Plan B.”
This backup plan included the acquisition of capital improvement program funds from the city, as well as the utilization of district discretionary funds that Waters had saved during his terms in office.
As the library materialized toward its completion, members of the Pocket-Greenhaven Friends continued to play essential roles in its development.
These early volunteers and board members included Windheim, Dolores Nuse, Janice Marschner, Mary McDonald, Bonnie Bartholomew, Bart Lagomarsino, Denise Watts, Margaret Sutera, Harriet Steiner, Wallis Hofsis, Rebecca Talley, Kathy Donovan and Liz Ehlers.
Also helpful in the drive to establish a library and assist in continuing its progress was a group of student representatives. These students were: Britany Hori, Courtney Hori, Olivia Kirkland, Katie Wong, Scott Newman, Christine Highstreet, Kenji Bennett and Anthony Fukuhara.
The library held its grand opening, which included a ribbon cutting ceremony with Waters cutting the ribbon, on Aug. 28, 2010.
A dedicated group
In reflecting upon the contributions of the Pocket-Greenhaven Friends, Waters praised the organization’s dedication to the library.
“The Friends group has done such an outstanding job since they formed,” Waters said. “They were a big help in getting the funding and (presenting) the different ideas they had, the suggestions, and we met on many occasions and we just kind of talked strategy, talked fundraising, etc. etc. We are very happy with what they’ve done. The advancements they have made and the hard work that has been put into it by all of the Friends and the increase in members over the years has been outstanding.”
For additional information regarding the Pocket-Greenhaven Friends of the Library, contact Kathi Windheim at (916) 392-0101 or write to the e-mail address email@example.com.