POTENTIAL HOMELESSNESS

THE ISSUE: Friends of the library need a new home.

OUR OPINION: County should be at forefront of relocation effort.


Can we stand by and let our Friends become homeless?

The Friends of the Citrus County Library System’s home base at the Historic Hernando School site is planned for demolition next year. The Friends operate out of a portion of a wing that is not part of the historical restoration of the campus, and can stay until the last day of September 2020.

That may seem like a long time off, but it is not.

The Friends need new accommodations that offer 1,200 climate-controlled square feet with facilities, room for deliveries, dumpster access and parking. Appropriate storage for books, media and more is imperative for the volunteer group to keep safe all those materials donated for its bi-annual book sales.

Not simple yard sales, mind you. These are “mega” sales efforts that thus far have raised about $1.3 million for our county libraries since they began: sales organized, staged and worked by volunteers who want us to have the best libraries we can. Each book sale raises about $35,000 to buy library books and more.

These are outstanding volunteers doing an amazing amount of work.

Talk about leading by example, on May 15 at the Florida Library Association’s Annual Conference in Orlando, Library Advisory Board Chair and Friends of the Citrus County Library System President Sandy Price was presented with the Florida Library Association’s Friends, Foundations & Boards Outstanding Member of the Year Award.

A top honor statewide.

Price has been a vital advocate for the Citrus County Library System since 1996. In addition to now leading the Mega Book Sales, she was the inspiration and lead behind the annual Love Your Library fundraiser, which is entering its 10th year.

Granted, there is a substantial amount of vacant commercial real estate in Citrus County that could ultimately provide a new home for the Friends. Consideration must be made, however, as to location.

Anything in the flood zone could be a disastrous idea, for instance.

Price, president of the Friends, said she hopes someone will offer new space for group. And with as much free space as we have in Citrus County, we could imagine that someone might want to accommodate their needs, even for the tax write-off.

Beverly Hills would be an ideal location for a new home, with its available, appropriate real estate. And the group isn’t looking for anything lavish, by any means.

The present site is not fancy, but has served the group well.

“It’s not the lap of luxury,” volunteer Marge Montana told a reporter, “but it’s a great place to sort books.”

It’s time for the county to help the volunteer group with its efforts to locate a new home. This is an organization that provides more than 21,000 man hours yearly — for free — to keep our libraries functioning at the level we have come to appreciate.

The kind of dedicated effort by Price and those of her ilk is priceless. We feel the county needs to move to the forefront of the search before our Friends become homeless.

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