Tennessee Williams: Tennessee Williams speaks at the dedication of the auditorium named after him in 1975. Photo Credit: Ida Woodward Barron collection, Florida Keys History Center, Monroe County Public Library.

Friends of the Key West Library Donate $58,000 and Celebrate 50 Years in the Key West Community

KEY WEST, FL – The Friends of the Key West Library donated $58,000 to the Monroe County Public Library System Key West branch at Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting. The mission of the Friends group is to support, improve, and promote the Key West branch through fundraising, volunteering, and advocacy for the library.

Of the donation, $50,000 will help fund print and digital library collections, fees for performers and speakers, program supplies and refreshments, and staff participation in library training. The $8,000 was raised at the Speaker Series Gala with Sam Sifton and will be used to install professional lighting and a new sound system in the Palm Garden for outdoor performances and concerts.

The Friends hold monthly book sales, volunteer at library programs, and organize and sponsor the popular Speaker Series, which attracts best-selling authors like Meg Cabot, Charlaine Harris, Tom Perrotta, Carl Hiaasen, and Judy Blume, to name a few.

“We are truly humbled and grateful for the dedication of these community volunteers,” said Monroe County Director of Libraries Kimberly Matthews. “We thank the Friends of the Key West Library for their generous donation and for all they do for the library.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Friends of the Key West Library.

  • Forty-five years ago: Raised money to build the library’s auditorium wing, dedicated by Tennessee Williams in 1975.
  • Forty years ago: Helped form the Key West Literary Seminar, which continues to preserve and promote Key West’s literary heritage while providing resources that strengthen literary culture.
  • Thirty years ago: Donated $250,000, their largest-ever contribution, for the first wave of technology automation in the Key West library. Key West artist Suzie DePoo created the ceramic mosaic “quilt” installed on the library wall at the front entrance to commemorate the gift. The Palm Garden was also established with native trees, one of two outdoor library gardens in the United States.
  • Twenty-five years ago: Founded the popular series of author lectures, now known as the Speaker Series.

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the Friends will host an anniversary celebration from 4-6 p.m. at Key West library, 700 Fleming Street. The public is welcome to view new technology and learn more about the group and its 50 years of supporting the library.

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