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Library FRIENDS prepare for busy 2013

Nancy Henry | For the Daily Courier The FRIENDS of the Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville assemble cookie jars in the kitchen there. From left are, in front, Karen Macko, vice president, and Judy Browell, and in back, Linda Ruth, group historian. Ruth and Macko were co-chairwomen on the Seasonal Cookie Jar Project.

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By Nancy Henry
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The FRIENDS of Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville are already making plans for 2013 on the heels of several successful campaigns in 2012.

“The FRIENDS were elated about our Nov. 3 book sale,” said Karen Macko, the group's vice president. “Each sale brings more people to enjoy the event. Reading is alive in Connellsville and surrounding communities.”

Macko said there are a lot of different activities going on and the book sale seems to draw a wide range of people — from poets to grandparents, children to scientists.

“And they all love the complimentary donuts, coffee and socializing,” said Macko.

The book sales are scheduled like clockwork — on the Saturdays when the clocks change — said Macko.

The next book sale will be held March 9, 2013.

And members of the volunteer group are already collecting items for the sale. The club accepts books, DVDs, large print books, CDs, children's books, etc.

Another successful project was the group's seasonal cookie jars, which were sold at It's A Connellsville Christmas.

During this event, the FRIENDS were located in the library auditorium and were joined by 22 vendors, who sold baked goods, crafts, dog biscuits, scarves, hats, jewelry, spa treatments and more, many were giving free samples. The 300 patrons enjoyed refreshments and left carrying many bags filled with purchases.

“Santa made an appearance, away from his busy schedule, so that all the children had time to discuss their lists with him and get their pictures taken. Everyone was in the Christmas spirit,” said Macko.

The seasonal cookie jar sale surpassed expectations, said Macko.

“We are happy that so many people in our community will be enjoying sweet treats over this holiday season,” said Macko.

The FRIENDS will start taking orders for its signature cookies, Andy's Cranberry Cookie and FRIENDS Death by Chocolate at Downtown Connellsville's Mum Festival in the spring and unofficially end at It's a Connellsville Christmas 2013.

“We have had so many requests this year, it seems that everyone needs just one more to have on hand as a hostess gift, teacher gift, exchange gift, or just to enjoy eating,” said Macko.

The jars cost $10 each and the group's motto is “from jar to table in 10 minutes!”

At every event the FRIENDS attend, they provide samples of the two varieties of cookies.

“We thank everyone who has so generously supported our project, all proceeds are earmarked for the library auditorium,” said Macko.

The Cafe Carnegie is the next big undertaking of the FRIENDS. The coffee shop is coming soon. Available at the shop will be coffee, specialty coffees, lattes, a panini of the day, soup of the day and a dessert of the day.

Lyndan Design on Wills Road in Connellsville will be doing the cabinetry and flooring, some plumbing and electrical work. That work is beginning now and is being funded by private donations.

“We will use the original lights in the library that were in the basement. They will be refurbished by the Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center. This project has a lot of different entities helping to bring it to reality. When people work together, many things are possible,” said Chris Wallander, who is on the board of directors of Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville and is a FRIENDS member. The cafe will be staffed by volunteers of FRIENDS. All profits will benefit the library, used specifically to offset the monthly budget deficit.

“With state funding cuts two years in a row, it has been difficult to maintain the services and payroll of the library. We need to maintain our staff at the level they are. If staff is reduced, then services are reduced and a downward spiral begins. Once that happens, it is very difficult to bring it back. Now more than ever we need to join forces and save an integral part of our community,” said Wallander.

The FRIENDS are asking the community for donations as the remodel begins, specifically needed are two refrigerators with freezers located on the bottom.

“We are now going into full planning mode for our June 1 fundraiser, Bike for Books. Our first organizational meeting will be on Jan. 31 and assignments will be confirmed,” said Macko.

The general membership meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 in the library board room. New members are welcome.

“We have an amazing membership, 183 members, who help us exceed every goal by sharing their special expertise and creative ideas. We also have a very enjoyable time,” said Macko.

For more information on FRIENDS, email at

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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