Non-profit Friends of the Library

Mary Kay Pavilionis, left, and Gail Roughgarden, both volunteers with the Friends of the Citrus County Library, pore through in this 2020 photograph.

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Friends, not foes

The Friends of the Citrus County Library System (FOCCLS) are just that – friends.

FOCCLS was established in 2001 when three Friends of the Library groups – Central Ridge, Coastal Region and Lakes Region – joined together as a nonprofit. Later, in 2018, the Floral City Friends of the Library joined.

“Our day-to-day work focuses on raising funds for the Citrus County Library System (CCLS) through our book sales,” FOCCLS president Sandy Price said.

They also work to stimulate greater interest in local libraries, promote knowledge of functions, services, resources and needs of the library and encourage gifts, endowments and bequests to the library system.

“We want to help our library system provide the finest level of service to the people of Citrus County,” Price said.

Friends’ fan favorite: The Mega SaleThis weekend, FOCCLS volunteers will be booked and busy.

Every year, FOCCLS hosts two Mega Sales, offering a wide variety of gently used books and puzzles. COVID-19 canceled Mega Sales in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021, but the sale made its grand return in October 2021. This weekend, the sale is back again at the Citrus County Auditorium, 3610 S. Florida Ave. in Inverness.

During the four-day sale, shoppers can expect the following:

Opening day: 3 to 7 p.m. March 11 with a $5 entry donation at the door

Sale continues: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 12

Half-priced day: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 13

Clearance bag day: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Our customers at the sales are thrilled to have access to such a wide assortment of books,” Price said. “The library system is thrilled to receive our checks to support their book acquisition needs.”

While browsing at your local branch of the CCLS, look for the blue dots on the spines of library books. Those books were purchased by funds raised from FOCCLS book sales.

Volunteers are vital

As a 100 percent volunteer-run organization, Price said FOCCLS’ love of books and libraries keeps them motivated. On a regular basis, 15 volunteers work twice per week at the book house, where volunteers sort, price and pack books for upcoming sales.

Approximately two-dozen additional volunteers assist with the biannual Mega Sale.

In addition, Price said, “Our member Friends of the Library groups are always looking for interested and motivated people for their governing boards.”

For more information, contact your local library.

More money, more books, better community

FOCCLS is completely funded by used book sale proceeds and community donations.

With the loss of two Mega Sales to COVID-19, the FOCCLS were left without their expected income, which was estimated between $55,000 and $60,000. However, they didn’t let COVID-19 get them down.

“We came up with a new business plan of ‘mini’ sales at various locations throughout the county,” Price said. With that, they were able to bring in a good portion of their typical profits.

Friends of the Citrus County Library System volunteers

Volunteers of the Friends of the Citrus County Library System are vital to the organization’s success, especially during their biannual Mega Sale.

In 2021, FOCCLS raised $38,172 from book sales and donations, bringing their income up to $41,579. Of that income, $32,740 was distributed to the CCLS through member groups, thanks to an additional memorial bequest received.

According to Price, their budget for 2022 estimates annual expenses at $20,941, with more than 75 percent going toward storefront rental for book storage.

FOCCLS is always accepting donations of used books and puzzles for upcoming sales. Community members can drop donations of at their local library branch.

For more information about FOCCLS or to become a member, visit foccls.org. To reach FOCCLS, email friendsofccls@gmail.com or call 352-513-4221.

Hannah Sachewicz can be reached at hannah.sachewicz@chronicleonline.com or 352-564-2929.