For 26 years, from conception to reality and continuing effort, the Friends of the Atascocita Library (FOAL) have worked to fund the local library branch. With a major annual financial contribution and lots of enthusiastic volunteers, FOAL makes services, performances and materials available which would otherwise not exist. FOAL is now working on its second book sale of the year, to be held Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Atascocita Library, Humble, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. “The Friends of Atascocita Library is essential to the library’s mission,” says Beth Krippel, Branch Librarian of Atascocita. “The community is expanding much faster than Harris County can keep up with, in terms of providing expected library services. The community deserves a great library system, and FOAL is a vital bridge for continuing to build and improve the library branch. The book sale is a major fundraising project for the Friends, who provide $20,000 in financial support for a summer reading program, books, part-time staffers and expenses. In the past the group has also purchased security cameras, children’s furniture, a digital display, music CDs, books-on-tape, carpets, puppets and musical instruments for storytime.. In addition to the book sale, the Friends also conduct membership drives, volunteer sponsored programs (ExxonMobil) and sales of T-shirts and bookbags. Some 10,000 books will be for sale for 50 cents to $1. They will include hardbacks, paperbacks, fiction, non-fiction religion, history, politics, sports, children’s, self-help, biography, classics, textbooks and magazines. Special needs readers may come from 9 - 10 a.m. Aug. 25. Members of FOAL may attend a preview Friday, Aug. 24, from 5 - 7 p.m., and new members may join at the door then for a $5 fee. “Despite the idea that Americans are reading less,” said Becky Berry, book sale chairperson for this year’s sale. “Our summer reading program registered 586 children, 117 teens and 221 adults. That was a growth for us.” Summer programs funded by FOAL were attended by 2,263 patrons. The Friends began organizing in 1991 and 1992, prior to the construction of the building itself. “We wanted to have our 501.c nonprofit certification and other legal paperwork already before beginning to raise funds,” Berry said. The branch was built from 1994 to 1996, and officially opened May 5, 1996. “FOAL is a very hardworking group, plus there's a core group of about 30 who are active in the book sale, which provides the major funding and helps us maintain a budget for services, including additional audiovisual materials and extra staff during the busy summer,” Krippel pointed out. “Additionally, in the summers, funding provided by FOAL allows us to offer programs with special performers once or twice a week for eight weeks. With recent cuts in state funding, FOAL has picked up much of that shortfall. So with their work and support, our community hasn’t really seen any diminishment in what our library programs can offer,” Krippel said. Current board members include Tonie Baer, president; John Cartwright, vice-president; Neil Baer, treasurer, and Carol Howards, corresponding secretary. The recording secretary position is now vacant due to Steve Heinley’s retirement. Committee chairpersons include: Novelene Hamblen, volunteer coordinator; Glenda Buckleair, ExxonMobil liaison; Chris Levicky, bulletin boards; and Jerry Berry, membership. FOAL actually was conceived in 1986, when the Atascocita Hi Neighbor Group, headed by Odell Dreyer, began the project of securing a library for the developing Atascocita subdivision. Many of these early members are still involved or leading the current FOAL organization. FOAL Board meets the second Tuesday evening of each month, at 7 p.m. in the library's meeting room. Its annual meeting is on the first Tuesday in May. For more information, visit foal.ws. Photo: From left, FOAL members Garland McCarthy, Minda Kaltenbacher, Peggy Alcorn and Tonie Baer review sales at a previous book sale.

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