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Patrons jazz it up for sake of Washington County library

October 05, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN - The library is a place of protocol. It is a place where people step softly, speak quietly and return books to their proper places. And all with good reason.

But one night each year at the Washington County Free Library, also with good reason, protocol is shelved.

Saturday night, the Gala in the Stacks 2008 fundraising event saw about 150 library supporters stepping lively, mingling merrily and passing books to a well-known author for personalized autographs.

Charlotte Seibert, the library's business manager, said the goal of the event was to raise awareness of the library within the community and raise money for the library's building fund.

"We're hoping to begin the central library renovation project in 2010," Seibert said. "They'll be moving us out completely. We'll be gutted and doubled in size, and we'll move back in, hopefully in fall of 2011. It's a fabulous project."

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Seibert said she expected gala proceeds, including $100 admission tickets and sponsorships, to be around $20,000.

The theme of the event, "Let's Jazz It Up," was carried out through mannequins striking cool poses in swanky duds, along with a thorough purple and red palette that carried though fabrics, seating and lighting.

"We wanted to shake things up a little bit," Seibert said.

The Scott Silbert Jazz Trio provided musical entertainment, while Rob Rock drew caricatures, Mike Rose performed magic tricks and Panache Events and Entertainment offered a private photo lounge.

Agatha award-winning murder-mystery author Katherine Hall Page of Lincoln, Mass., spoke of the importance of libraries and librarians. She said libraries are "dear to my heart and essential to American society."

"The United States is very different from other countries in our access to books and education," Page said. "Librarians stand up for our civil liberties and guard against banning books. They are a feisty bunch."

Page said she hoped the fundraising event would be financially lucrative and that the library's campaign would continue to go well. Attendees received a gift bag with Page's most recent book, "The Body in the Gallery," as well as two of her paperbacks.

Art Callaham, president of the library's board of trustees, thanked state, county and city officials for their vision in supporting the central library expansion.

"People don't realize that this library is the economic anchor for our downtown. It gets more than 1,000 visitors each day. Nobody can come close to that," Callaham said. "This expansion project is an important factor as we continue to revitalize downtown. It's going to be great."

Board treasurer James G. Pierné agreed.

"We need to continue to support the library and keep it a viable resource for the community," he said.

State Sen. Donald F. Munson said the new library and revitalized downtown will be "limited only by imagination."

"This is going to be a really exciting place in the not-so-distant future," Munson said.

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