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This years Gala in the Stacks a little more relaxed

October 07, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - All of the leaves weren't brown and the sky wasn't really gray.

But that didn't stop people from humming a classic 1960s rock song as they walked into the Washington County Free Library Saturday night.

Once inside, it was easy to see why.

The theme for this year's Gala in the Stacks was "California Dreaming," and the main level floor of the downtown library reflected a West Coast vibe, with surfboards, palm trees and beach umbrellas.

"We've been holding a gala for the last eight years," said Mary Baykan, library director. "And most of them have been very formal affairs. But tonight, we asked people to dress California casual. It's definitely a little different."

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According to Baykan, "the gala is a chance to celebrate libraries and the role they play in the community. But it's also a major fundraiser. Two county libraries - Clear Spring and Smithsburg - were built with the help of money raised at past galas. And a third in Boonsboro is currently under construction."

Last year's event raised about $22,000, Baykan said. This year, organizers hope to meet a $25,000 goal.

"We always have a great deal of community support for the gala," she said. In addition to individual tickets, money also is raised through sponsorships from area businesses and corporations.

Proceeds from this year's gala will go to the building fund and also will be used to support children's programs and literacy issues, Baykan said.

While libraries always will be committed to helping people develop a love of reading, more and more, Baykan said, "we are playing strategic and different roles. For many citizens who don't own computers, their first resource is the library. And in national disasters, such as (Hurricane) Katrina, libraries provide a place for people to send e-mails to relatives and file FEMA papers. We are constantly broadening who we are."

Bob Morgan, who was in charge of decorations, said he had fun working on this year's gala.

"When I was given the theme, I knew this would be a great evening," he said. "This is certainly one of the more casual fundraisers I've worked on."

"This is a fun evening and perfect 'California' weather," said John R. Hershey III, president of the Washington County Free Library's board of trustees.

"But it's also a great opportunity to raise awareness of the library in the community."

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