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A time for celebration: Library groups, community gather for community picnic

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Jul 23, 2021

Mayor Jim Auxer, left, helps FOSL member Vicki Hodziewich with the raffle drawings at Morgan’s Grove Park on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Friends of the Shepherdstown Library held their annual meeting for the first time this Saturday afternoon in the form of a community picnic at Morgan’s Grove Park.

The event drew both current and former FOSL members, as well as community members from the Shepherdstown Parks & Recreation Committee, Nourishing Literacy Giving Circle and Shepherdstown Public Library. The picnic was organized by FOSL members Vicki Hodziewich and Peri Celik. However, it incorporated activities from the minds of the library staff — a Teddy Bear Picnic Storytime and T-shirt tie dying event — and Shepherdstown Parks & Recreation Committee’s Bookmark the Park series — a book giveaway.

“We want everybody to take their time and enjoy themselves today,” said FOSL President Rob Sisk. “Grab a book, enjoy it under a tree and thank you for being here today!”

The Morgan’s Grove Park pavilion was filled to capacity with attendees participating in the picnic and activities, along with FOSL’s scheduled speakers. More than one of the speakers addressed attendees’ concern over the status of the Market House repairs schedule and future library building.

“The library is an integral part of our community,” Mayor Jim Auxer said, mentioning the library’s current Market House location is estimated to be able to reopen in two months.

Audrey Levi, of Miami, Fla., looks at books in the Bookmark the Park book giveaway at the community picnic on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

Until the foundational repairs are made to the Market House, the library staff is serving the community out of the War Memorial Building’s first floor, Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when no other events are scheduled for the location.

“This is what happens — people in Shepherdstown come together for the common good. And that’s what we’ve done today!” Auxer said. “We really care about what happens here. It is so important! This is what our community is, is what our library is. The future looks bright!”

SPL Director Hali Taylor and the owner of the design company that will be in charge of the new library building, Alexander Design Studio, Charles Alexander spoke about the timeline for the new library building’s completion.

“We will be able to open approximately one year after the signing of the contract with a construction company,” Taylor said, mentioning this is the project’s next step, now that the development of the property’s land has been finished.

Shepherdstown resident Agnes Freund was specially recognized and given a floral arrangement at the picnic, in honor of her dedicated work as a 24-year member of the 25-year-old organization, FOSL.

Shepherdstown Public Library Director Hali Taylor greets community picnic attendees in Morgan’s Grove Park Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

“I was treasurer, membership chair and took over for doing the FOSL newsletter 20 years ago. My main claim to fame is I’ve outlasted everybody!” Freund said, mentioning that at 86-years-old, she plans to hand over her running of the group’s newsletter and website to younger members. “I figured it was time to let new blood take over and do things their way!

“I joined FOSL because I have a lifelong love affair with books. I grew up during World War II, without any siblings. There were no children around [to play with], so books were my friends,” Freund said, mentioning that there were no libraries near her home in southern France, which made her appreciation for the SPL all the greater.

Shepherdstown Public Library employee Sarah Brumback helps children tie dye T-shirts at the community picnic on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

FOSL member Jen Bean leads the Teddy Bear Picnic Storytime at Morgan’s Grove Park Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston