by Ingrid Mattson
The Friends of Orcas Island Library hosted its 60th Holiday Tea at the Library Dec. 2.
We had countless types of cookies, brownies, and tea sandwiches, and poured hundreds of cups of coffee and tea. We were graced with Turtleback Brass, Sea Island Nutcracker performers, and children on violins, violas, and other stringed instruments.
Festivities culminated in FOIL board members’ presentation to the Library Director, Ingrid Mattson, of a check for $24,300.
The FOIL Tea originates from the era when the library was open to members only. Membership fees and the Library Fair (the summer book sale) were the primary source of funds the library relied on annually to stay open, and largely that money went to books and the basics for keeping the doors open.
When islanders voted to make the library a tax district in the 1980s (ensuring anyone on the island who needed access to free books has it), FOIL continued the tradition of hosting the Library Tea to thank the community for all of its investment in the library over the year.
But FOIL does so much more than the Holiday Tea and Library Fair. A lot of the library’s core work (e.g., buying and processing books) is covered by property tax, and I want to thank all of you for supporting library levies in the past, which make our central operations possible.
But FOIL is the icing on the cake. The money they raise from the Library Fair, lobby book sales, and eBay sales enable us to offer the community so much more each year.
This past year, FOIL’s gift to the library helped fund the Ken Gibbs fund for science education and programs for Orcas kids, and we had 75 people at our April event designed to increase kids’ curiosity and inspire a continued love for science. We had a stellar year for programs, which are also funded by FOIL. Program funds enable us to pay speakers, provide prizes, help with travel, promote the events, and so much more. We had events that reached 30–110 people this past year, and FOIL’s support gives flexibility to consistently offer these opportunities to the community for free.
FOIL’s supplies funds for $5,000 in books each year — that’s about 200 titles each year we add with FOIL funds. They also fund our children’s book club, YA book club, and adult book club. The list goes on and on.
We had 106 kids receiving free books through our Summer Reading Program, and 700 folks came through our doors on Halloween to trick-or treat for books — programs fully funded by FOIL.
And we don’t simply spend FOIL funds to the library’s benefit. We focus on building partnerships in our community to amplify other groups on the island. For example, with the Summer Reading Program, our Children’s Librarian Jenny DeGroot connects with school reading support folks to ensure kids that need literacy help are getting supported outside the classroom during the summer through our book program.
As another example, this year we partnered with the Orcas Island Historical Museums and used a grant of $5,000 from FOIL to purchase a large cradle scanner so we can digitize journals from Rachel Adams over the next few years, making Ms. Adams’s observations and recollections of life on Orcas more accessible.
The hard work and many, many hours each FOIL volunteer puts in, and the heart they put into their work makes coming into the office special. I’m honored I’ve been welcomed into this library community, and I have FOIL to thank for their support.