After a 25-year hiatus, the Brownwood Public Library will be launching a new Friends of the Library group with an initial meeting on Wednesday at noon.
    The group, which will meet biannually, will help serve as ambassador for the library and assist with volunteering, fundraising and generally promoting the library and its activities.
    Becky Isbell is the director of the Brownwood library. She said the Friends group could help get the word out about everything the library had to offer. “We’re just trying to do great things for the library and the community,” Isbell said. “Most libraries have a Friends of the Library group, and it’s just a support group that pretty much anybody who loves the library can be a part of whether they just have time to tell their neighbors that the library is awesome, and to tell their legislators that they support the library or if they want to get involved and volunteer.”
    Isbell said the library had several upcoming initiatives that the Friends group could help with. “We are trying to get out more at local festivals,” she said. “Last year we were at the Cinco de Mayo festival. We need more … things to make it look interesting.”
    Isbell also said the group could assist with the creation of a coffee cart for visitors to use during library events. She said that the group would be largely autonomous and that the Friends could choose their own projects and ways to support the library.
    Isbell said there would be benefits to joining the group, like discounted rates on using one of Brownwood’s last DVD cleaners and notifications about library events. “So much of what the library offers,” she said, “is already available to all community members, but definitely we want to support our members that are supporting us.”
    In addition to the library’s best known attraction—its books—Isbell mentioned several services on offer. The Brownwood library has a collection of DVDs, magazines, newspapers and audiobooks as well as vast online databases for college and grade school students. Library membership gives Brownwood residents access to language-learning software, dozens of magazines and even e-books that can be “checked out” for use on tablets and e-readers and then are automatically “returned,” avoiding any late fees.
    Isbell said the library’s computers were very important as well. “A lot of people who have computers at home don’t think how important it is for people who don’t have a computer at home,” she said, noting that people often used the computers to apply for jobs and keep in touch with relatives.
    Moving forward, Isbell said she was optimistic about the future of the American library. Though the institution’s demise was often predicted with the advent of the computer, Isbell said the library still offered many important services.
    “I think libraries are definitely transforming with our society,” she said.
    Isbell said the new Friends group would be an important part of that transformation. “We love people who volunteer and want to help out a booth at a festival or help sort through books, but just if you love the library and you want to let people know, that’s a huge help to us as well.”
    Membership in Brownwood’s new Friends of the Library group is $5 per individual. Businesses and non-profit organizations can also join the group. The Brownwood Public Library is located at 600 Carnegie St.