By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
The Asbury Park library, for the first time in a long time, has a Friends of the Library organization.
The FOL is being led by acting president Nicole DeGeorge who stepped into the leadership position after two library board members solicited members.
The board members, Kerri Martin and Janet Torsney, cannot also be members of the FOL, which would be a conflict of interest.
DeGeorge, who has a degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a degree in anthropology from Hunter College with a focus on arts and music, works as a digital librarian for an art collector.
She describes herself as the director of digital operations and collections. She has lived in Asbury Park for three years.
“I am a lover of music, this is where I came,” she said. “I have a lot of friends in the music industry here.”
She also has a passion for libraries.
After getting the word out about the new FOL forming, people responded quickly.
The group now has about 100 members and all are waiting for the 5019(c)3 non profit legal status which is expected by the end of December.
“We will being fundraising in January,” she said. “Right now we have been mobilizing volunteers.”
The library will also begin having earlier hours on Saturdays switching from noon to 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
DeGeorge is hoping an open house at the library Sat., Dec. 1 will be a chance to reintroduce the library.
“I’m happy to get everybody together,” she said.
She said after a notice about the new FOL was posted on the social media site, Next Door, they held a first meeting where 40 people attended.
“I was not only blown away by the number of people but the range of skill sets they brought to the table to help the library,” DeGeorge said.
She said she has also been working on strategic planning for the library with FOL member John Grant, who is also a member of the Complete Streets Coalition.
Longtime Library Director, Robert Stewart, said there had been a FOL in the 1970s, but the group disbanded due to the difficult times the city was facing at the time. In addition many women, who had been the backbone of the group, left to enter the workforce.
Stewart said FOL groups can be very helpful to libraries, offering support through fundraising and advocacy.
The library’s assistant director, Kathleen Melgar, has been attending the FOL planning meetings and said, “We’re very excited and looking to what their plans are. They seem to be motivated to help the library in any way.”
Melgar said she has attended strategic planning meetings where the main focus has been on developing programs, such as crafts and computer classes.
The other focus is fundraising and deciding on upgrades for the library she said.