Barb Esposito, the current President of the Fountain Hills Friends of the Library, is in her fifth year of a six-year term with the organization. For her, libraries provide a sense of community and valuable resources for local residents. And, thanks to grant money from the Fountain Hills Community Foundation, Barb and her board of directors are able to enhance the library experience for others who feel the same way.
“I’ve moved around a lot so I’ve always liked libraries,” she said. “You can find out a lot in a library. They offer a lot more than just books.”
The Friends of the Library is an organization that provides supplemental support in the form of books, programming, and facilities for the Fountain Hills Library, which operates within the Maricopa County Library District. Originally known as the Fountain Hills Library Association, the Fountain Hills Friends of the Library (FHFL) was founded in 1977 by Fountain Hills pioneer and former mayor, Jerry Miles, who helped the organization obtain its nonprofit status.
Although the entity operates separately from the Library, the FHFL works closely with the library director to determine what the library’s needs are and how the FHFL can help. In 2021 for example, the organization used their Fountain Hills Community Foundation grant to help update the teen area. The funding paid for one of two sound-proof partitions with dry erase boards.
The group is reserving their 2022 grant monies ($3,000) to update the children’s area with appropriately-sized seating for adults who want to read to their children once the space has been designed and the furniture can be ordered.
“The grant money is great,” Barb said with a smile. “It’s like seed money for us so we can think a bit bigger.”
The FHFL donates books to the Fountain Hills Unified School District’s elementary and middle schools and to library book clubs, and provides an annual college scholarship to a graduating senior through the Golden Eagle Education Foundation. They also sponsor the library’s winter and summer reading programs, author events, performances, and teen events.
“Our main focus is getting everybody back into the library, which is why we donate money for programming,” Barb explained. “They’re slowly starting to trickle back in (after the pandemic).”
The organization, which includes nearly 250 members and volunteers and a managing board of directors, derives its main source of funding from management of a used bookstore, located just outside the library entrance. Barb said individuals who would like to support the FHFL efforts are invited to participate in Its annual book sale which occurs this year on February 17 and 18 or make a donation.