People like to support success. Next month people in and around Los Banos will have a chance to support an increasingly successful operation — the Los Banos public library.
This past summer was one of the most successful in the history of the Los Banos branch of the Merced County Library. According to Nola Ramirez, chief library technician in Los Banos, the branch’s reading program enlisted more young readers and checked out more books than in any other summer since she began working here in 2013.
On Oct. 17 Los Banosans will have the chance to show their support of this successful library by attending “Art, Books and Bites,” the annual fundraiser of the Friends of the Los Banos Library.
The Thursday evening event — which features food, wine, and local art — will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. in the library, located in Pacheco Park (1312 S. Seventh Street).
Tickets, at the reasonable cost of $25, are available now from any member of the Friends and at Phoenix Books, 936 Sixth St. in downtown. The ticket price includes wine and other beverages as well as homemade hors d’oeuvres and desserts.
All proceeds go toward supporting the library, including programs for young readers throughout the year.
This is the second year the Friends’ fundraiser has used the format of pairing hors d’oeuvres, desserts and wines with book titles. Once again, the event will feature the work of local artists and provide raffle opportunities to win baskets of goodies.
“We are excited about the opportunity to showcase our library at this event,” said Stephanie Dees, the fundraiser’s chair. “Our library may be small, but it’s a pleasant, welcoming building, one of the city’s jewels, which provides a place where persons of all ages can experience the joy and value of reading.”
The financial contributions of the Friends have helped support programs initiated by Merced County Library Director Amy Taylor and her staff that have been offered in Los Banos, including the summer reading program, storytimes, magicians and other children’s entertainment.
Friends’ contributions also supported many activities this year for young people, including the new “sensory playgroup,” during which young children participate in kinesthetic activities like watercolors and finger painting.
This year’s Friends’ fundraiser will feature new pairings of books with food and drink, including “Green Eggs & Ham” with mini-quiches, “The Bully and the Shrimp” with prawns, “The Carrot Seed” with a vegetable platter and “Chocolat” with assorted chocolates from Nana Steph’s Delights.
Other pairings include “Blessed Are the Cheesemakers” with a cheese platter, “Godforsaken Grapes” with the wine bar, “The Sausage Book” with assorted sausages and “The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves” with cheese served with jams.
Once again John Cates will serve as master of ceremonies to help guide the evening. Background music will be provided by Eric Gregg. Included again in this year’s raffle prizes will be books and book posters.
As in previous years, there will be art for sale by local artists. “This year’s selection of art will be varied,” said Colleen Menefee of the Friends group. “It will feature local artists and include media such as watercolors, prints and original oils.”
“Tickets, art sales, and the raffle will definitely help our bottom line in fundraising,” said Billy Via, president of the Friends. “But above all we want people to come Oct. 17 to enjoy the library and to socialize with other people who value reading and appreciate good food and wine.”
Thanks to this annual fundraiser the Friends have been able in recent years to purchase furniture, equipment and books as well as materials, supplies and prizes for the Summer Reading Program and other library activities.
As in previous years local businesses and individuals have donated money and supplies to help cover the cost of the event. “We are deeply appreciative,” said Friend of the Los Banos Library Sandy Pope, “of the local businesses who have responded to our requests to contribute and who wholeheartedly support our local library.”
The Los Banos branch has been part of the success of all library branches in Merced County. This past summer the county library registered 3,449 summer readers, issued 1,782 new library cards, and checked out 49,250 books. The county library also offered 400 summer programs and activities with 6,174 individuals attending.
“Anyone who thinks libraries are a thing of the past or are not being utilized today,” said Bob Plass, Westside representative to, and chair of, the Merced County Library Advisory Committee, “should think again.”
I believe most residents of Los Banos realize the importance of libraries, especially its local library, and I trust many of them will attend the Oct. 17 fundraiser.