Merced County Times Newspaper
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Friends of the Library celebrate with fundraising dinner


Following a talk by author Mark Arax at the Multicultural Arts Center, the local organization, Friends of the Library, hosted a fundraising dinner at the banquet room in the El Capitan Hotel. Friends of the Library is a community non-profit which protects and promotes libraries throughout Merced County. The fundraiser gave supporters the opportunity to give financially to the library, as well as spend more time with the author.
“We do our best to help the county library carry out its mission of serving the whole community,” said Donald Barclay, the group’s president. “Mark was wonderful to come. This was the first really big event we’ve done … It’s really been a success, so many people came out.”

Nearly 140 people attended the talk, and 52 attended the dinner that followed.

“This afternoon was so wonderful,” added Dee Near, the group’s vice president. Near has a long history with the county library, where she was an employee for 15 years, and recalled times in the past when the library was in serious jeopardy. Now the list of services is expansive, including summer reading programs, third grade library card drives, the bookmobile, and a teen center located in the main branch. All of these programs are funded in great part thanks to the community. “That’s why the Friends of the Library is so essential,” she added.

“Civilization depends on libraries,” said Anne Neal, who is a member of her local Friends of the Library in Auberry. She traveled to Merced just to attend the talk and show her support. “It’s more important than you can realize.”

This sentiment was echoed by those in attendance at the dinner, who all expressed how valuable the library’s services are to the continued development and growth of Merced.

“Merced is an extraordinary community,” remarked Mark Arax as the evening came to a close. “As you enter Merced, the valley becomes more civilized. … It’s a lot closer to the sanity of how to do agriculture and a community.”

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