The Friends of the Art Circle Public Library of Cumberland County received the Friend of the Year Award at the Tennessee Library Association’s annual conference in Murfreesboro on March 25. This award recognizes an outstanding member or group of individuals of a Friends of the Library group for exceptional leadership and/or achievements.

The Friends of the Art Circle Public Library (FOL) is truly a dedicated group of 400 library advocates. About a decade ago, the FOL members were inspired by the hard work and intricate plans spearheaded by the Art Circle board of trustees to build a new 34,000 square foot library facility. Since then, the FOL group worked hard to produce many successful fundraisers, which netted upwards of $100,000 for the new library facility. Part of their success was attributed to the excellent leadership, with FOL presidents John Nye, Joyce Baur, Marty McKnight and Ginny Nixon all serving FOL after their terms ended.

During the last 15 months, FOL members Gary and Virginia Gardner methodically structured a Circle of Friends Bookstore within the confines of the new Art Circle Public Library, incorporating years of their retail management experience. On May 2, 2010, the new library opened to the public, and the Gardners, along with 30-plus volunteers, raise an average of nearly $2,000 a month in proceeds from the sale of gently used books from their bookstore.

The Friends also arrange for the sale of prepaid grocery vouchers from Kroger and Food City, sponsor annual luncheons with noted guest authors and their bestselling books, feature intriguing local speakers at all their monthly meetings and are a constant source of support and assistance to the library director and her staff.

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