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Volunteers: ‘Friends’ should change name

epl-friends

Two volunteers in the Evanston Public Library's book sale program suggested Wednesday that the EPL Friends group is misleading the public.

Barbara Handler, speaking during public comments at the Library Board meeting, said a number of people she's spoken with assume that the Friends are part of the library's program.

"Our sales go directly into programs and collections that serve the entire community," Handler said, while the Friends distribute money at their own discretion, beyond the control of the Library Board. This year money raised by EPL Friends has been used for "The Mighty Twig" an independent mini-library at 900 Chicago Ave.

Handler said she'd like to "respectfully suggest that the Friends adopt a name that makes a clear distinction" between their group and the Evanston Public Library

Miriam Rosenbush said the book sale at the library has raised more than $500,000 over the last five years for library programs, while the Friends "have focused too narrowly on library branch access."

"I urge the friends group to make the main branch their focus," Rosenbush said, adding that she agreed with comments of Thomas Mann in his recent guest essay published by Evanston Now.

For his part, Mann said the Friends fundraising "has the risk of confusing people" and he, too, urged that the Friends should change their name "so its more distinguishable from the library."

Laurie Keenan, a leader of the EPL Friends group, called the volunteers comments "shocking," after the Friends "had worked so hard over the past 18 months to provide better library services for all of Evanston."

Keenan said "thousands of families all across Evanston" have joined the Friends and that the group does support the main library as well as neighborhood services.

About five audience members applauded Keenan's remarks.

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