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Supporting the library for 50 years, and counting

PEPPERELL — Thanks to a strong Friends group, Lawrence Library is about so much more than books.

The Friends fund the social and cultural activities at Pepperell’s library, said Diane Temple, president of the Friends of Lawrence Library.

This year marks their 50th anniversary.

The 19 museum passes available to patrons? The Friends pay for those.

A concert? The Friends.

The Christmas tree lighting and visit from Santa? Yes, the Friends make it possible.

They do a lot. In 2014, the Friends donated $15,000 to the library for the purchase of children’s books and programming, according to the town report.

The group is one of three that work together to keep the library running, Temple said.

The Library Trustees work to keep the historic building in top shape, she said. The library needs a new furnace though, and Temple hopes the town can be part of the solution.

The trustees and friends work together to fund the summer activities, she said.

And the Friends are beginning to partner with more groups in town.

With the Pepperell Garden Club, they installed a butterfly garden at the base of the new sign on the front lawn. The flowers, both perennials and annuals, are small now, but volunteers from the Friends care for them daily, watering as needed. When mature, they will attract beautiful butterflies to the library.

The sign, installed in the summer of 2013, was an Eagle Scout project completed with a little help from the Friends.

Scout Sean Ernst looked for support from businesses and organizations in Pepperell. “The Friends helped kick off Sean’s funding for the sign and then they paid for the lighting,” said Library Director Deb Spratt.

The group is planning to approach other groups, like the Pepperell Business Association, Temple said.

The official kickoff of the Friends’ 50-year celebration begins at the annual meeting on June 11. A luncheon follows the meeting at 10:15 a.m. They plan to have more special events during the year, Temple said.

Temple praised the dedication of the library staff, who took a furlough when faced with budget cuts in fiscal year 2014.

The Friends pay for all of the programming at the library except what is funded by cultural council grants, Spratt said. ”

The Lawrence Library and the community of Pepperell are very fortunate to have such a dedicated, passionate Friends of the Library,” she wrote in an email. “Their dedication, contributions and support are much needed and always greatly appreciated!”

The Friends continue the tradition of philanthropy at the library begun by Charles Farrar Lawrence, a successful businessman who was born in Pepperell and returned to the town in the summers.

His bequest of $100,000 allowed the town to build the library that opened in 1901, said Ronald Karr in an essay on the town website. Lawrence’s art collection can still be seen throughout the building.

“The Friends help us to continue the cultural vision Mr. Lawrence had for this library by funding the diverse programs for all children, teens and adults,” Spratt wrote.