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A small classroom inside the Historic Hernando School has been home to the Friends of the Citrus County Library System's volunteer group for many years. The group organizes tens of thousands of books sold biannually at the Citrus County Auditorium, raising funds for the county's library system.

It didn’t take long for the Friends of the Citrus County Library System to find a new home.

But while the space is larger than what the group has had in the Historic Hernando School complex for 25-plus years, the downside will be felt in the libraries themselves.

Current rent to the county: $300 a month. New rent starting in October: $1,300 a month.

“It’s a big impact on the library,” Friends president Sandy Price said. “The library’s going to get a lot less money.”

Friends of the Citrus County Library System, along with two other tenants, were given until the end of September 2020 to find new homes. The county plans to seek a grant to level the non-historic portions of the campus for parking and drainage.

The Friends group uses the space to box and store books, audio materials and other goods that the group offers at the organization’s twice-a-year book sale. Each sale — the next one is Oct. 4-8 at the Citrus County Auditorium — raises about $35,000 for books and other materials at the county’s public libraries.

The higher rent will mean $12,000 annually from the book sale not going into the library system.

Price said she explained the situation to Eric Head, the library system director.

“He’d rather have some of the pie than none of the pie,” she said.

The group is transitioning during the October library sale. Materials will be moved from the Hernando school site to the book sale at the auditorium. Boxes and materials left over will then be taken to the group’s new site in the Village West Plaza on State Road 44 west of Inverness.

The new site has the space the group was looking for — 1,100 square feet now to 2,000 square feet — plus access to a Dumpster, restrooms, and plenty of parking for volunteers.

And its central location may attract more volunteers, Price said.

But Price said it’s with a heavy heart that the group leaves Hernando.

“We are going to miss that school,” she said. “It’s going to be a sad day when we move. We’ve forged friendships together, been through life’s ups and downs. It’s just a great group.”

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Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

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