For 56 years, the current incarnation of the Friends of the Barrington Area Library has consistently helped provide additional fundraising for the library through book sales.
But on Monday, the Friends' board of directors bluntly asked the library board whether the services of its volunteers will be wanted anymore once a $5 million renovation project is done in 2014.
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Friends volunteers are smarting from the discovery this fall that the library made no provision in its renovation plans for the storage space necessary for their semi-regular book sales.
In fact, Friends Director Jan Goss said his group had been expecting bigger and better space after the renovation.
"Now you have your plans, and apparently we're not in them," Goss told the library board.
The Friends' last book sale in October raised more than $14,000, which is near the high end for any single sale, the group's Vice President Wayne Tegeder reported. "I think the community by and large has expressed their feelings," Tegeder said. "We need to know what support the board will give us."
Though the Friends' directors said they accepted that no further sales would be possible during the renovation, they wanted to know how to prepare for afterward.
Goss said the library board had heard correctly that the Friends were struggling with an aging membership. But the group wants to know by its annual meeting in February whether to spend a year in recruitment mode or to simply disband, he added.
Library board President Donald Minner said the help of the Friends over half a century was greatly appreciated by the library. He suggested both boards appoint two members each to work together on a long-term plan.
But Minner also asked for open minds and a less rigid time frame, especially if positive progress was being made.
"I wouldn't rule out anything -- space here or space somewhere else," he said.
Friends directors said the suggestion was satisfactory, but that they still preferred a final decision soon.
Though the current Friends group was formed in 1956, Director Mark Spreyer said newspaper clippings refer to a similar group using the same name in the 1930s and possibly even earlier.