By Mickey Gomez, Chair of the Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System
Today, the Howard County Library System and Howard County Government hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony launching the addition of a new Pop-up Library van to the "On the Road to Kindergarten" program, and as the Chair of the Friends and Foundation of the HCLS, I had the honor of saying a few words about our support for this great program.
Here's what I said:
"When Tonya (Aikens, President & CEO of the HCLS) approached us about supporting the Library’s application for the Rise to the Challenge Grant, we eagerly said, “Yes!” and immediately began thinking of other ways we could support this incredible new service for our community.
In a county where we celebrate our national rankings, we also have an increasing number of neighbors who are asset limited, income constrained, and employed. According to the Association of Community Services’ FY 2020 Self-Sufficiency Indicator Report, the number of households living below the poverty level in Howard County has increased 14 percent since 2012. Twenty percent of Howard County’s families earn less than $75,000 a year. And an estimated 5.5 percent of children under 18 were living in households below the poverty level.
And as Tonya noted, this impacts how families are able to support their children. Studies have shown that children from low socioeconomic neighborhoods have less access to reading material at home when compared to children in more affluent neighborhoods.
When this new On the Road to Kindergarten PopUp Library comes to ALICE (assuming ALICE has already been defined?) communities, Library instructors will prepare young children for kindergarten by teaching social foundations, language, literacy, and mathematics. The Library’s team will help parents and caregivers select developmentally appropriate books, toys, and media to support their children’s learning at home.
All of this ... is why the Friends & Foundation of HCLS has been raising money to support this new mobile unit - so together, we can create new outcomes for our friends and neighbors in Howard County. I'm honored to be here today to invite you to join us ... so we can continue supporting the collections and materials inside, and, so we can collectively ensure that this incredible new effort grows and thrives!"
Contributions through the Friends & Foundation site (www.friendsHCLS.org) will continue to fund books and supplies supporting the educational and social-emotional development of our youngest residents.
The next time you’re near Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, please take a moment or two to look for a beautifully painted picnic table featuring the exceptional artwork of multimedia artist Jereme Scott.
When the Inner Arbor Trust announced the opportunity for local community based groups, non-profits, and artists to work together to submit a design for one of the new picnic tables in Symphony Woods, Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library system immediately reached out to our partners at the Library to collaborate. We connected with Jereme, the Adult Art Curriculum Specialist at HCLS, who came up with a gorgeous design celebrating art, nature, and community.
Jereme, who received his MFA from Howard University and has been a Resident Artist at Howard County Arts Council since 2009, was one of 15 artists selected to decorate newly constructed picnic tables through a juried process led by the Inner Arbor Trust.
We’re grateful to Jereme for designing and creating this collaborative piece, and hope you’ll stop by to see this and the other designs whenever you’re in downtown Columbia.
This fall, HCLS will be introducing a new mobile library van, On the Road to Kindergarten, that will bring library collections, services, and programs to all corners of the community, focusing on preparing children from birth to three for kindergarten.
The Friends & Foundation of HCLS is holding a floral fundraiser this spring to support it! As Friends members, we are giving you advance notice of this fundraiser which will be available to the general public starting April 4 - the beginning of National Library Week.
We invite you to make a donation and enjoy your thank-you gift(s):
A portion of your donation goes directly to HCLS to support this fantastic project that will creatively bring education, support, and activities to young minds outside the library’s buildings – it’s a Win, Win, Win!
We are kicking off National Library Week with this great fundraiser, and we ask for your support to raise money for the library's new mobile van, On the Road to Kindergarten!
Please make your donation now through April 28. Pick up will be on May 6, between 3-7 pm at the Miller Branch, 9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042.
(February 15, 2021) – The Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System announces the appointment of Allen Cosentino and Heather Shafer to the Friends Board of Directors.
Allen is a lifelong Howard County resident and dedicated educator. Currently the Principal of Oakland Mills Middle School, he is committed to ensuring all children regardless of gender, race, ability or social class have the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed and he is working to develop students who possess a love of learning for the purpose-building skills for a productive and purposeful life. "It is an honor to serve the Howard County community through the excellent work of the Friends & Foundation of HCLS" said Allen.
Heather recently started working towards a MS in Counseling after spending ten years as an Analyst in the healthcare field and recently took a position in HCPSS as the Secretary of Student Services. She has been in the community for seven years after relocating from Connecticut and has spent many hours volunteering with the PTA, NAACP, and various community drives. “I’m ecstatic and honored to join the board of Friends & Foundation of HCLS to help support my community that I live and work in!" said Heather.
The Friends & Foundation of HCLS is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that raises funds and recruits friends to support the Howard County Library System in its mission to deliver high quality education for all ages. The Friends & Foundation is overseen by its Board of Directors, supported by businesses and organizations, and funded by more than 2,000 individual donors.
“We are thrilled to welcome Allen and Heather to the Friends & Foundation of HCLS Board of Directors and look forward to moving the Friends & Foundation forward under their leadership” said Board Chair Mickey Gomez.
2021 Friends & Foundation Board of Directors:
The Friends & Foundation of HCLS is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that raises funds and recruits friends to support the Howard County Library System in its mission to deliver high quality education for all ages. friendshcls.org
Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 7 PM EST – 9 PM EST
Join us for Howard County Library System's Evening in the Stacks: Serata Virtuale - an exquisite tour of Italy, from the comfort and safety of your own home.
Emcee for the evening, Elsa M., host of "Midday Maryland", will host our journey to Italy with our tour guide Lindsey from Hooked on a Bite. Our tour includes a visit to a winery, a chef demo, truffle hunting, and more. HCLS is proud to partner with local vendors for this year’s event who have curated our meals and wine pairings. Select your Escursione from our touring packages listed below. All guests will receive Benefici, compliments of our Sponsors.
Event proceeds will help the Library fund two critical programs during the COVID pandemic: learning activity kits for students K-12 and access to Chromebooks and hotspots for our neighbors without internet access.
"We are proud to sponsor Evening in the Stacks each year, and support our wonderful Howard County Library System. On behalf of the Friends & Foundation Board of Directors, I invite you to join us and look forward to seeing you "in Italy, ciao!" - Mickey Gomez, Friends Board Chair.
Click here to get tickets
Friends & Foundation Helps Howard County Library System ... Howard County Library System Helps the Community.
This year’s enforced social isolation has been a challenge for many. People naturally seek connections, and the library has always been a place to make them – whether at a children’s early literacy class or an adult author event. When Howard County Library System (HCLS) closed its doors in mid-March due to the pandemic, it saw an opportunity to expand community engagement and focus on improving local wellbeing through a series of “Pandemic Pivots.”
Here are five important ways Friends & Foundation of HCLS has supported HCLS through this challenging year, so the Library can better support YOU:
The success of the Library’s “Pandemic Pivot” this year is directly connected to the support from the Friends & Foundation of HCLS. Please consider a donation to the Friends & Foundation of HCLS to help our continued support of these expanded and added services.
You can donate through our new website: friendshcls.org.
Mickey Gomez, Chair
Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System
As we head toward the Thanksgiving holiday and take stock of what we are grateful for, we want to take a moment to thank all of you.
Without your support of the Friends & Foundation of HCLS, we wouldn’t be able to support the many fantastic programs of the Howard County Library System.
It’s because all of you – our #Friends – that we are able to ensure that we have programs like:
While this past year with COVID-19 has been challenging and has changed how we are currently interacting with our fabulous Howard County Library System, we are so grateful for their incredible efforts and ability to pivot during the pandemic.
And, we know you are too – because we are hearing from you:
“We are most grateful for the library’s efforts during the COVID outbreak to keep the community engaged. The contactless pickup has been very valuable to our family in supplying us with lots of reading material. This has helped ease the burden of being less active in the community day-to-day. We are proud to be a small part of helping to keep these programs going. Cheers.”
"Giving to Friends of HCLS is rewarding to us. I've enjoyed taking advantage of the Library's current borrowing scheme with its contactless pickup. That's certainly very innovative of the staff and is part of what makes HCLS the best system in the country."
Thanks to you all for your ongoing support.
This holiday season we are very grateful for you.
Mickey Gomez, Chair
Friends & Foundation of HCLS Board
We are excited to announce a brand new Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System website!
This updated platform will make it easier for our donors and supporters to learn more about us, what we do, and how to donate and support our efforts to both celebrate and fund a variety of exceptional HCLS programs and initiatives.
It will also give those who care about our library system a simple, powerful path to both discover and amplify upcoming events and ways to get involved across a variety of social media platforms.
Our new blog, created to share ongoing and timely information, will help spotlight current events that affect Friends, HCLS, and our community.
We invite you to join us in supporting HCLS and the many programs we fund. Each and every one of us are touched by and benefit from our remarkable Howard County Library System.
Together, we are all Friends of the Library.
We hope that this new website makes it easier for us all to support an organization that we know makes a real difference in our community.
- Mickey Gomez, Chair, Friends & Foundation Board of Directors
"Being black in America should not be a death sentence," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said at a news conference following the incomprehensible death of George Floyd. The same is true of Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the far too many others who have been killed or brutalized in our country based solely on the color of their skin. It is far past time for us to actively stand against racism, to stand against the countless systemic, racially-based cruelties and threats intentionally built into the very fabric of our lives in America.
I fully support the powerful statement issued today by HCLS President and CEO Tonya Aikens. Racism has no place in America. Racism has no place in Howard County. Now is the time to speak out and to take action, because silence is no longer an option. We must stand together and demand equality, respect, and justice for the Black community and for all people of color. And we must remain standing together until these changes happen.
- Mickey Gomez, Chair, Board of the Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System
The Friends & Foundation of the HCLS Board categorically denounces racism and joins the call for racial equity and justice. We fully support the statements issued today by HCLS President and CEO Tonya Aikens, HCLS Board of Trustees Chair Anne Markus, and Friends & Foundation of HCLS Board Chair Mickey Gomez. We urge our community to stand up and to speak out against the systemic oppression of Black people and people of color, and to work together for real change and equality for all.
- Board of the Friends & Foundation of HCLS
Shara Alpert, Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, John Dove, Ana Liesch, Ellen Flynn Giles, Mickey Gomez, Heather Jackson, Dr. Diane Martin, Nana Owusu-Nkwantabisa, Sabina Sambat, Wendy Slaughter, Ronnie Wooten
A Message from HCLS President and CEO Tonya Aikens
My heart aches at the cruel and inhumane acts routinely inflicted upon my Black brothers and sisters and all people of color. Tears stream from my eyes because statements like this continue to be issued in the aftermath of senseless killings like those of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. I wail as committees are formed to check the box so we can bird watch in public parks and not endure what Christian Cooper endured. My gut wrenches because conversations must be held to see that our children have the protections denied Aiyana Jones at seven years of age. My soul is in a state of unrest to see people of all races and ethnicities in harm’s way and being harmed as they peacefully protest in support of respect, equal justice and equal treatment for all. The statements, committees and conversations should and must continue, but we must also move past them, standing against racism and hatred each time it is in our midst, and strategizing and enacting change until America’s promises ring true for all citizens.
Learning of one another, our shared history, and the peaceful steps we can all take is essential to reaching this goal. In line with its mission of high-quality education for all, Howard County Library System (HCLS) dove into the topics of systemic racism with the Undesign the Redline exhibit and Color of Law author Richard Rothstein event (in person and on our HiJinx podcast), and racial justice with Waking Up White author Debby Irving and educator Lisa Gray.
HCLS condemns racism, hatred and violence. Today, HCLS invites you to join us in committing to and engaging in an educational pursuit for justice.
Public libraries across the country have the responsibility to advance social equity. HCLS stands united with the Urban Libraries Council and the American Library Association in condemning racist incidents and behavior that targets individuals and communities.
HCLS is one of more than 160 North American public library systems that have shown their strong commitment to ending structural racism by signing ULC’s Statement on Race and Social Equity, which asserts that “libraries can help achieve true and sustained equity through an intentional, systemic and transformative library-community partnership.”
The American Library Association unequivocally condemns racism and endorses recent statements by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Laureate once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
I implore you not to be neutral. The cost for neutrality is simply too high. It’s incalculable. I invite you to take the deep pain felt in our community and use it to fuel positive change. Peacefully learn, grow, share, support and act. Our talented team will continue to add to the list of materials below curated for all ages in various formats. Read. Watch. Listen. Share. Act.
President and CEO
Howard County Library System
Statements from HCLS Board of Trustees
Statements from the Friends & Foundation of HCLS Board of Directors
What White People Can Do for Racial Justice