A Conversation with Toby Spitz and Chris Tice Sr.

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Toby Spitz, left, and Chris Tice Sr.

The Friends of the Library is a nonprofit organization that exists to support the John Jermain Memorial Library in its efforts to serve all of Sag Harbor — young and old, every race and religion, and everyone in between. But right now, the Friends need to make a few more “friends.” Toby Spitz, a three-year member of the Friends who serves as the group’s president, and Chris Tice Sr., a 15-year member who serves as its secretary, spoke about the group’s urgent need to recruit more volunteers.

What is the main mission of the Friends of the Library?

Toby Spitz: We raise funds to provide for programming. The library is now more of a cultural center, and the need for programming is great. We’re trying to step up our efforts in gifts to the library.

Chris Tice: The main thrust is to raise money to supplement the library’s resources.

What is the organization’s greatest need right now?

CT: We need more members.

TS: Worker bees. We need active members. Our dues are low, so people join, but they don’t come. We very much would like the participation of parents from the school district who are involved in the children’s area who want more input in the library through the Friends.

CT: The ideal would be people in their 50s and 60s who don’t have jobs or who have retired and have time, and want to meet new people and do some volunteer work in the community. How do we reach them?

TS: This is a wonderful opportunity for newcomers to the village to participate and socialize.

How important is it to attract more active members?

TS: It’s critical.

CT: We always look to the same people to do the work. We do not have enough people to spread the work around. It’s always the same people who raise their hands.

TS: We’ve had ideas thrown at us for ways to raise funds. We can’t do them because we don’t have enough volunteers.

CT: Every year it becomes more of a challenge to have the necessary number of volunteers to staff the House Tour and our other events.

Why should people get involved?

TS: It’s wonderful to give back to the community. The volunteer gets more out of it than he or she gives. There’s every reason. If you have ever enjoyed the use of the library, it’s your chance to give back. The second thing is the socialization. There was just something in The New York Times about tennis and badminton players living longer because they are social sports.

CT: Camaraderie of any group is an enhancement to the quality of life. Several of my closest friends are people I met through volunteering.

What is expected of a member of the Friends?

TS: Attendance at meetings and participation in various events. We only meet eight times a year.

CT: We only have events periodically, so it’s not like you’re busy all the time.

TS: I’d love to get someone who is software savvy who can set us up with online purchasing for tickets. That’s a new function. I’m not the right person to do it.

CT: If we had people who could help us out for a specific task, who could do it in a heartbeat, that would be a tremendous relief.

The next Friends of the Library event is a luncheon with author David Margolick on Sunday, December 2, at 12 p.m. at the American Hotel. Meetings of the Friends take place on the second Thursday of each month at 2 p.m. at the John Jermain Memorial Library; meetings are not held in January, February, July and August. Those who are interested in learning more about Friends of the Library can visit johnjermain.org/about/friends-of-the-library/ or email Ms. Spitz at friends@johnjermain.org

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