New Friends of the Library group in Simcoe to host first fundraiser June 10

A new Friends of the Library group in Norfolk County will host its inaugural fundraiser on Monday.

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The lunch and learn in the basement of the Simcoe branch will feature native plant expert Kevin Kavanagh of South Coast Gardens, who will present on native versus invasive plant species before taking audience questions about gardening and biodiversity.

Doors open at 11:30 am with a noon start time, and admission is by donation. Sweets and hot drinks will be provided, and attendees are welcome to bring their own lunches.

“The Friends of the Library is a purely fundraising body that raises money for different activities within the library, or whatever the library wants,” explained Amanda Van Schyndel, a member of the Simcoe chapter’s eight-person executive committee.

“I just believe in libraries. We all need to read,” said Van Schyndel, who also sits on Norfolk County Public Library’s advisory board.

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To support the library’s quest to get more kids and teens through the door, the group is looking to raise $2,000 to purchase LEGO robotics sets, which combine the classic plastic LEGO bricks with electrical components to make programmable robots.

“It’s hands-on learning,” Van Schyndel said.

“They promote critical and abstract thinking and problem-solving skills, and also teamwork. I think it’s a really neat idea that will appeal to a lot of younger people.”

Van Schyndel is assembling a roster of future lunch and learn speakers while brainstorming other fundraising ideas. She said the Friends of the Library group welcomes new members and volunteers to help out at events.

“(The library) is a place where everyone can come. There’s no restrictions. Anybody can come here and learn anything they want,” said Van Schyndel, a former high school teacher and librarian.

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“And there’s so many programs and things you can do that are free to come to. That’s amazing.”

Norfolk’s libraries have faced funding cuts in recent years, and money raised by Friends of the Library chapters in Port Dover and Delhi have allowed those branches to increase their programming.

“I think it’s really important that every community has a library. And the more vibrant we make it, the more important everyone thinks it is,” Van Schyndel said.

“And the more we can make people think it’s important, then the longer it’ll keep going.”

JP Antonacci is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter based at the Hamilton Spectator. The initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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