History of the Friends of the Library


The Friends of the Ethel M. Gordon Oakland Park Library group kept busy in 1994 by focusing on the establishment, incorporation, advocacy, programming, and fund raising activities during its first year.


The establishment, incorporation, advocacy, programming, and fund raising accomplishments of Friends during its inaugural year were recognized by The Florida Public Library Association at its 1995 Annual Conference in Winter Park when the organization announced our Friends group had been chosen o receive their coveted "Friends of the Library of the Year" Award.


Ornaments for Video Project generated $500-$600 annually for several years. 

Hosted the first Tellabration, an evening program of storytelling for Adults and sponsored Museum of Art field trips for exhibit previews and docent guided tours. 

Famous Author Luncheons Series brought new members to the Friends organization. 

Hosted Dr. Howard’s Multi-Media Travelogues to capacity crowds.

Assisted with the conversion of old fashioned card catalog to a modern online catalog by volunteering to add bar codes to more than 40,000 items in the library collection.

2007 and 2009:
Advocacy was the theme when the Friends officially “stepped up to the plate” on behalf of the Library.  



While not completely inclusive, this review of many of the underwriting projects provided by Friends through the years is a powerful illustration of the range and impact Friends have made on and for our library.

Gave $2,600 to purchase the furniture for the LAN (local area network) technology and information services.

Friends purchased computer work stations for the reference area to expand information services and assisted with funding for a security system for the library.

Purchased an “industrial sized” laminator for use by the library staff.

Repaired the security system and purchased additions to the reference collection.

One of the single largest projects undertaken by Friends was the refurbishing of the Marie Wright Community Room, with the purchase of 100 comfortable upholstered stacking chairs with arms, stacking carts to store them, 12-six foot lightweight tables with upright storage carts as well as 24 Samsonite plastic chairs with sled bottoms for the children at a total cost of more than $7,500.

Donated $4,250 toward the yearly subscriptions of magazines and papers when the recession resulted in an marked increase of patrons cancelling their personal subscriptions and coming to read the library selections.

Gave new meaning to the phrase ‘spring cleaning” by hiring a professional cleaning company to thoroughly clean of all the carpeting in the public areas, staff offices and conference room.  All of the upholstered furniture also was cleaned, including the reading area, computer area, offices and conference room. ($3,328.81)

Purchased four additional computer desks and chairs for the computers that were added to the library for public use; a monitor for “PC Cop” – the system which makes usage assignments to the patrons using the library’s 23 computers; an HD flat screen TV installed in the library to provide timely information to the patrons; a new lexan cover for the library marque at the entrance; underwrote expenses for two staff training workshops; underwrote the cost of printing the library brochure Telling Our Story.

Began an annual tradition of purchasing hundreds of books for the library to distribute at the city’s Youth Day.

Friends contributed $3,000 to help establish the library e-book program, enabling patrons to access books through a variety of devices, including iPod, iPod, Nook, Kindle and their personal computers.

Continuing its commitment to children’s programming, Friends contributed  more than $7,000 for the purchase of red, yellow and blue sets of furniture for the children’s department; as well as a laminated 15-panel Story Book Trail first displayed at Youth Day and at the city’s Art Park celebration and also helped underwrite the Children’s Summer Program. 

Paid for the signage over the back entrance of the library identifying the facility as the Ethel M. Gordon Oakland Park Library.

Friends Board has made a commitment to join the city, together with a state aid grant, to purchase 59 new chairs for use by library patrons in the public area to replace the highly used and well-worn current ones. 

Although Friends programs and projects have changed over the years to reflect the changing needs of the library and its patrons, the first and longest running project remains, the Friends Used Book Sales.  In the fall of 2014, during the 20th anniversary celebration of the Friends group, it was announced that there had been 81 Used Book Sales to date and nearly $60,000 raised for Our Library.

With prices starting at 25¢ for paperbacks and most hard covers still priced at $1-$2, that represents a LOT of sorting, pricing, set-up, scheduling, selling and storing – all done by volunteers. Following Joan Parlow, Book Sale chairpersons were Pat Reynolds, Deanne Von Stetina and Rachel Stackhouse, assisted by the “Princesses of Pricing” Joanne Gatterer, Edith Fleischman and Eileen D’Addezio.  In recent years, President Tom Hardy has added many of these chores to his “to-do” list.


Through the years, Friends Executive Board members and the Library’s  administrative leadership always have had a cooperative, productive and mutually respectful relationship working toward common goals for the benefit of what residents have often called our community’s greatest asset. – our Library.

When Friends began in 1994, Alicia McHugh was Director with Joanne Fischer as Assistant Director. Alan Kornblau became Director in 1998; then Dee Scarborough in 2006, and following reorganization by the city, Heidi Burnett was named Library Manager in 2010. Eventually, Heidi was promoted to Director of the Parks and Leisure Services Department and Lisa Testa was named Library Manager in 2015.