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'Friends' Help Brighten Brookfield Library Walls and Programs

Since 2004, the Friends of the Brookfield Public Library has donated more than $80,000 for library programs, services and facilities.


"Shhhh. Quiet and slow."

That's how I remind my children to behave whenever we enter a library. (Being quiet usually isn't a problem. Being slow, however, means suppressing their urge to run full sprint to the video shelf or Star Wars books....)

Quietly and slowly is also the way that volunteers with the Friends of the Brookfield Public Library have been making a big difference in the library's programming and facilities.

The group, started in 2004 by Sheila Buechel, has gone mostly unnoticed as it has donated more than $80,000 to the , most recently helping add new furniture in the periodicals area last fall and bright paint last month to the lobby atrium, periodicals and children's areas.

It's money the city has not had to budget or spend.

It's work that is organized by volunteers, local residents who want to see their library survive and thrive.

"This is all volunteer work," Buechel said. "No taxpayer dollars were spent."

The list of donations over the years includes helping to finance new upholstery for the children's benches along the windows overlooking the Guido Brink "Unfolding Red" red metal sculpture; Read it and Eat programs in which a themed dinner is offered with a related book discussion; author lectures such as Astronaut Mike Mullene and former Green Bay Packers player Chester Marcol; puppet shows; ice cream socials; computer software; sculpture lighting; aquarium maintenance; bike racks and a furnished teen area.

Buechel and David DiBraccio, president of the Friends, recently showed me the latest effort — the two-day paint project by Dublin Contractors in Butler to brighten the library's periodicals area near the entrance.

"It's beautiful green and blue — no more beige," Buechel said. "It's such a nice area with all the windows, and you can sit and see the hostas and trees in the courtyard."

Supporters hope to add more color to additional library areas, as funds and time permit, DiBraccio said. They also want to fix walls with peeling and torn wallpaper.

Help needed for book sale, events

The Friends of the Brookfield Library raises revenue from year-round donations and its annual August book sale. The sale is intentionally scheduled six months apart from a book sale that a fellow group hosts for the Elm Grove Library, in order to help ensure mutual success, DiBraccio said.

This year, the seventh annual Brookfield used book sale will be held Aug. 10 to 12, and Aug. 17 to 19 at the Brookfield Senior Center on the east end of , 2000 N. Calhoun Rd. Donated books can be dropped off at the library's circulation desk.

Applications are available to become a member of the Friends of the Brookfield Public Library. The cost is $5 for students; $10 for individuals, $20 family, $75 business/organization or $250 for lifetime membership.

The group also is always looking for volunteers to help at the August book sale and the myriad other events its hosts throughout the year.

Slowly and quietly, they get it done.

Honey Szymanski March 15, 2012 at 12:47 AM
As a current Friends Board Member and past President, I want to thank all the dedicated members of our Board who have spent hours, days, months and years helping make the Library a true treasure for Brookfield. I am truly amazed all our little group has accomplished. I invite you to come to a meeting, attend a sponsored event or sit in the newly renovated periodical area. The greatest payback for the Friends is to hear all the great comments about how our hard work has enhanced your library experience. Thanks for your support!

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