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Group launches Lathrop Friends of the Library
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LATHROP – The Lathrop Public Library is about to add a significant chapter to its history. That chapter would be on the “Friends of Lathrop Library.”

The support group is technically not yet official, but incorporations papers are already being finalized for the members to approve and submit for processing, and the first officers have been named following the first meeting in May. Two of the four officers selected are former Lathrop Council members. They are Bob Gleason, president, and Steve Dresser, vice president. Tapped for the position of secretary, pending his acceptance of his appointment, is Lathrop High School Principal David Chamberlain. Holding the treasurer’s position is Susan Dell’Osso, project manager of River Islands at Lathrop master-planned community.

Besides the four officers, “We have six additional members but are looking for more,” Dresser said.

The incorporation papers are expected to be approved by the membership at the next meeting. The initial group met for the first time about a month ago.

Dresser said it all started when Don Moyer of Ripon spoke recently at a Lathrop Rotary Club meeting and talked about the Ripon Friends of the Library. Moyer’s wife, Mary, also happens to be a staff at the Lathrop Branch Library which prompted his suggestion that the Lathrop Rotary should look into getting involved in a Friends of the Library undertaking.

“At that point, a bunch of Rotary members said, ‘hey, maybe we should start thinking about our own Friends of the Library,” Dresser recalled.

He then met with Dell’Osso and Gleason soon after that and kicked the idea “around a little bit more.”

Next, a meeting was called and 15 people attended. That was last month.

“A lot of people were interested in it. There’s a lot of folks that are interested, and had been for quite a while,” Dresser said.

At the subsequent meeting last week, they elected board members, started forming corporation papers, and elected the first officers.

Dresser said there’s no better time than the present to start addressing the concerns of the Lathrop Branch Library.

“We know they are cutting hours at the library. Some libraries are shutting down, but they are going to keep Lathrop open,” he said.

With the Lathrop Friends of Library in place, “at least, now we get a start on raising money” to keep the Lathrop branch of the Stockton-San Joaquin Library System open, Dresser said.

With the city’s plan to save money by moving the current library facility from its rental location on Seventh Street to the Teen Center Complex next door when it is completed by spring next year as anticipated, the need for a library support group becomes even more vital. When that happens, they will definitely need more funds for more computers and other things for the new library, Dresser said. And if the county library system starts talking about shortening library hours due to budget constraints, “we could do something that would help extend those hours,” he added.

Talks about a Friends of Lathrop Library started way before Moyer planted the seed at the Lathrop Rotary meeting. The talks actually started more than a decade ago, in fact, long before the city got its own branch library. Dresser was a member of the Manteca-Lathrop library task force that was formed more than a decade ago to discuss various library-growth issues including opening a branch in Lathrop.

The idea goes even farther than that, though. Having a Lathrop Public Library in town has been a long-time dream of Lathrop residents, a dream that even predates its incorporation.

The first order of business for the Friends group will be to “become legal and official, and we’ll do that,” Dresser said.

Right now, plans are for the membership to hold quarterly meetings, with the annual meetings to be held on July 8 starting with the upcoming meeting on that date.

Dresser said they are hoping to get a group of 15 people or more at that meeting and start talking about fund-raisers.

Plans right now are to set the annual membership fee at $10 for each individual and family, and a $100 lifetime membership. There will be different rates for business, but that will be discussed at a later time, Dresser said.

For more information about joining the Lathrop Friends of Library or about the next meeting, call (209) 982-1798.