OLEAN, NY – The Friends of the Olean Library Inc. have invited folk to “Read Between the Wines” and to “Booktoberfest” and “FeBREWary” beer samplings.

Those after-hours annual Friday events are the more recent fundraising endeavors of the Friends, who started the wine tastings in September 2018 and the beer tastings in February 2019.

Because the Friends have given exemplary support to the library since their founding in 1981, the Olean Public Library Board of Trustees and the library director and assistant library director nominated the group for the 2020 Daniel W. Casey Library Advocacy Award, which is sponsored by the Friends of Libraries Section of the New York Library Association (NYLA).

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The news is good: The Friends share this year’s Casey award with a Capital Region group, the Friends of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Park Public Library. Established in 1993, the award is given annually to a library volunteer or to a group within a library community and is typically presented at the NYLA annual fall conference. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, time and place of the presentation are not yet determined.

The Friends “are overjoyed at the news,” Friends Board Member and Special Events Chair Mary Giardini reported.

“We each use our gifts to champion our wonderful library and the good work it does on a daily basis,” Giardini said.

She noted that Friends board members “act as good stewards for the donations Friends receives through membership drives, donations for book sales or events such as our wine and beer tastings.”

Their successful fundraisers allow the Friends to provide circulating materials, to fund the summer reading program and items that Giardini termed “durable,” such as display cases, bookshelves and technology.

Giardini pointed out that the Friends’ contests for elementary school students and the wine- and beer-tasting events for adults “are designed to introduce our library to people who might not fully realize the extent of the upgrades to library facilities and all the library’s new programming until they physically step through the door.”

The Olean Public Library “has grown with the times,” she added, listing what’s there beyond books on the shelves: computers for public use, fax machines, copiers, meeting spaces and one of her favorites, “audiobooks through the Libby App.”

According to the OPL’s August newsletter, the library’s directors and trustees submitted the nomination about the Friends because they are thankful for “the creativity of their events and the level of financial support.”

And they noted the Friends provide over $12,000 annually from an endowment established for circulating materials and additional gifts for programs and equipment.

“Their support allows the library to bring in summer reading program presenters,” according to the newsletter. “They also help the library staff with events and share library information on social media and other venues.”

In the nomination, the library trustees and directors also noted that the Friends coordinated a regional library calendar a couple of years ago that was sold in area libraries and regularly conduct book sales and other more traditional fundraisers.

Library Director Michelle La Voie, in her letter of support on the nomination, noted that the Friends’ most recent events “have been a game-changer in terms of their fundraising efforts.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Friends will not host Read Between the Wines in September. FeBREWary is scheduled for Feb. 19, 2021, and is likely to feature wines too, according to Carole McNall, who is the Friends vice president and secretary.

McNall explained that in its second year the name of the February beer tasting was changed from Booktoberfest to FeBREWary because the initial name caused some confusion.

Giardini emphasized that the Friends board appreciates the support received from Friends members and volunteers.

“Since our board numbers 11 people, our Friends and volunteers are essential to helping us with our events and sales,” Giardini said. “We are always looking for people to step in and help in large or small ways."

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