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Lakewood Ranch Library nonprofit turns its focus to collections

Manatee Library Foundation has given $200,000 toward stocking the shelves of the new library.

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Although the walls are now set in place, another important piece of the Lakewood Ranch Library has yet to be built: its collection of books.

The Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library, a nonprofit devoted to assisting the new library, is launching a “Fill the Shelves” campaign preceding the library's expected opening late in 2023.

Kick-starting the campaign is grant of $200,000 from the Manatee Library Foundation.

“We’re very happy, just thrilled with the foundation, stepping up to this this request and going beyond what we expected,” said Sue Ann Miller, president of the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library.

Manatee County Library Services Manager Tammy Parrott thanked the Manatee Library Foundation and the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library for doing so much needed work for the library.

“It's just a great example of a community group working with local government to create something of value for the community," Parrott said. "I think Sue's passion moved the Library Foundation, and we are just thrilled.”

The Lakewood Ranch Library, which is being built by Willis Smith Construction, is expected to open late in 2023. (Photo by Ian Swaby)
The Lakewood Ranch Library, which is being built by Willis Smith Construction, is expected to open late in 2023. (Photo by Ian Swaby)

Parrott said a year ago, Manatee County Library Services staff members produced a cost estimate to fill the library with books, analyzing the shelf space and computing the average cost of the books. Staff members estimated that about $990,000 would be required.

The allotted funds from the county, however, remained at $580,000, an amount Parrott estimated would supply about 27,000 books. The library services staff estimated about 48,000 books are needed to fill the shelves.

With a $200,000 grant dedicated to the effort, the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library has initiated a challenge to raise an additional $210,000.

Don Janezic, president of the Manatee Library Foundation, said the county didn't supply funds for books that would be appropriate for a library of this size, and based on the area it was serving. The donation, he said, was provided for the Lakewood Ranch Library's collection of books specifically.

“Our purpose is to support the entire library system," Janezic said. "Here we have a situation in our backyard that we need to step up to, so let’s do it.”

He said an initial donation was important with the hope other nonprofit organizations might be prompted to donate to the new library as well.

Miller said the grant was important in Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library's quest to secure other grants and funding.

She said her organization has been working on securing grants and donations toward the initial purchase of books since September, with a goal of having the $210,000 collected by April 2023.

Manatee County Library Services Manager Tammy Parrott said the county is seeking a
Manatee County Library Services Manager Tammy Parrott said the county is seeking a "well-rounded" collection for the Lakewood Ranch Library. (Photo by Ian Swaby)

Hurricane Ian's impact did hinder the progress, she said.

Miller said the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund and Schroeder-Manatee Ranch have each pledged $10,000 toward the collection of books.

The organization has filled out grant requests to philanthropic organizations such as the Marie Selby Foundation, the Bishop Parker Foundation, and the Rotary Club.

She said District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh was reaching out to numerous builders and other potential funding sources in the county with whom she has relationships.

“We need to make sure we have books for citizens to enjoy,” Baugh said. “The friends are doing a very good job trying to help. I'm honored to work with them, and they don't get enough credit.”

Next, the organization will branch out to businesses and individuals.

“It's a wonderful community, which is definitely dedicated to having the best library possible,” she said.

Currently, Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library is raising money toward the purchase of multicultural and bilingual resources, as well as children’s collections and large print collections. Miller said guaranteeing those resources at the new library will help in the grant-writing process.

She said it's obvious securing children's publications will help those not reading on an appropriate grade level. Seniors often can't see the print on many books or magazines, so having large print is invaluable. The multicultural and bilingual resources are self explanatory.

Parrott said she was looking forward to bringing the opening collection to fruition.

“It's not every day that a librarian gets to participate in an opening day collection," she said. "We're just so excited to be able to do this and give it to the community.”

Parrott said the library will search through classics, bestseller lists, best of category lists and other resources. 

The new library will include slightly heavier amounts of juvenile materials than other county library collections and will feature genealogy items, which have become popular. Parrott said there is a trend in collection development to include books by independent and local authors, something that will be considered in this case as well.

Parrott said notable features of the library in addition to the collections will include a bookstore where purchases fund the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library, as well as a drive-thru book pickup service.

The building will include a maker-space for children and adults that includes 3D printers, which are also featured at other library locations in Manatee County including the Central Library.



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