Henry Whittemore Library establishes alumni fundraising group
By Sophia Harris
The Henry Whittemore Library is hosting an array of upcoming events for the remainder of the fall semester and planning events for the spring semester.
In addition to the events on campus, an alumni fundraising group, Friends of the Whittemore Library, is in the early stages of development.
This group was started by the previous dean of the Whittemore Library, Bonnie Mitchell, and is being led by the current dean of the library, Millie González.
“We're forming a group to really engage alums and people who either graduated from Framingham State or worked at Framingham State and really provide information about the library to them and give them the opportunity to give back to the library financially,” González said.
González added the group is “in its infancy.”
Working with Mitchell, they have formed a board of directors for the alumni fundraising group which includes faculty members, faculty emeriti, and members of the community.
She said the board has also created the bylaws for the fundraising group.
Desmond McCarthy, an English professor and a member of the Friends of the Whittemore Library board, said, “It's an honor to be involved in this visionary initiative, which was the brainchild of our current library director Millie González and our retired library director Bonnie Mitchell.”
McCarthy emphasized the importance of the library to the campus community.
“A library is at the center of any university, and we need to do everything we can to provide financial assistance to Whittemore Library and support the many new initiatives and programs that Millie is putting forward.”
He added, “A library is not simply a research center and a repository of information - it's the hub of an academic community.”
McCarthy said the alumni fundraising group “is working to help Millie create a vibrant 21st-century environment at Whittemore - not just for your own campus, but for the Metro-West region.”
González said the board has “laid the foundation.”
The next steps will include sending information out to alumni to inform them about this opportunity to become more connected to the Library and Framingham State.
“Making that connection from when you're on campus, as a student or as a staff member, and then when you leave, you'll still have the connection to the library. I think it's really wonderful,” González said.
She noted many valuable initiatives at public libraries are funded because of the “friends of the library.”
González said the board will identify specific initiatives or items to better the library and enhance the quality of experience for students.
“For example, whether it's nice interesting furniture or buying a collection of books, or paying for student worker salaries, those are the kinds of things that when we fundraise big, you know the money that we fundraise will go to those initiatives,” she said.
González said, “We're very excited about this.”
Kathleen Barnard, the student events coordinator for the library, said the alumni fundraising group is in the “planning stages.”
She added there are “a lot of really great ideas floating around,” and as the board continues to meet, there will be more information available.
González highlighted other initiatives underway at the library, including the community board that is located at the building’s entrance.
“The entrance is really the most important aspect because immediately, you get a sense of the vibe of what the library is all about,” she said.
González said the community engagement board will be used to advertise events on campus to engage students.
She said the library is also partnering with the Rams Resource Center and University Police for two upcoming events.
The library will be hosting a drop box where the campus community will be able to donate items such as coats and canned goods for the Rams Resource Center.
She said the library will be partnering with University Police on a Toys-for-Tots drive. The campus community will be able to donate toys for children at a library drop box.
Barnard said they are currently working on planning an event called “Cocoa by the Fire,” which is an opportunity for students to come to the library and enjoy baked goods, hot chocolate, and tea in a relaxing environment while finals are taking place.
González said, “So when you're entering the library or going up to your class, you can just have a little bit of something nice and sweet.”
She added looking ahead toward the spring semester, some events they are planning on hosting include a book discussion on graphic medicine in partnership with the Veteran and Military Services Center.
She said the library will also be partnering with the Center for Inclusive Excellence to hold a book discussion.
González said in April, there will be a week-long event held for National Library Week, which includes book giveaways, book discussions, cake-decorating contests, and presentations by faculty showcasing their work.
She said there will also be initiatives held for Black History Month as well as Women's History Month.
González said the goal is to make the library more student-focused. She said students will be surveyed to learn what events they would like to see the library host.
“Having a really vibrant, welcoming, inclusive library is our goal. And to bring in all of the ideas from the community, I think it'll make it even more enriching,” González said.
Barnard said she would “love” to hear more from students and what makes the library welcoming to them.
She added any ideas that students have for events the library potentially could host are welcomed.
“If anybody has any thoughts on what they'd like to see, I'd love to hear them. That's always fun for me,” Barnard said.
Ray Dufresne, a junior English major, said, “It would be nice to see them [the library] be more proactive with the students and community - like offering tutoring sessions, donating old books, and doing book drives for children around the neighborhood who might need the support.”
Dufresne added, “Getting color printers that actually print in color would be a plus.”
Sophia Moretti, a senior psychology major, said she would like to see the library host events that are “community-based” and that would bring the campus community closer together so Framingham State would not feel like a “commuter school.”
“I want the library to feel more like a community space … a space where you can make friends,” Moretti said.
Abigayle Versackas, a senior history major, said she enjoys the events that the library hosts.
She said she is “definitely interested in going to Cocoa by the Fire” and is “looking forward to it.”
Versackas said she would like to see the library host community-run book discussions especially geared toward “Indigenous History Month, Women's History Month, and Black History Month.”
She added a possible allocation of the alumni fundraising group funds would be new furniture.
“I think that would be really nice and overall, just revamping the space would be nice to see,” she said.
Ella Reddin, a sophomore English major, said she would like to see the library become more commuter friendly.
She added she is frustrated with the lack of usable outlets in the library and would like to see more accessible outlets to use.
She said, “I don't have a dorm to go back to, so sometimes, I hate it when I'm in the library, and its plugs are not working or I'm just constantly trying to plug in the wall.”
Reddin said with the fundraising group's money, she would like to see an investment in more diverse and relevant books offered by the library.
[Editor’s Note: Desmond McCarthy is the advisor to The Gatepost.]