History of Friends of the Freedom Public Library
Freedom Public Library exists today because of the 200 Corridor and its surrounding communities wanted a local, full service library. People objected to going all the way to downtown Ocala to borrow and return books. Still, years of consultations, planning sessions and searches for an available site passed, and no library. A desirable site existed further west of 200, but clearer thinking nixed that idea. The complex was slated to include a sheriff’s substation and a fire rescue station. Those responsible decided library patrons engrossed in their reading would likely be scared out of their chairs by sirens going off, or by squealing tires and the roar of pursuit vehicles. When the matter came to the attention of local businessman and real estate developer John Rudnianyn, he put an end to the question. He donated a three-acre parcel of land adjacent to one of his projects. Here is where the library stands today.
The Friends of Freedom Public Library began forming in May of 2000. According to William R. Haussmann, founder and Friends first president, their small group of eight met in a garage and started making plans for the library’s opening day. Their first organizational meeting took place on Wednesday, July 26, 2000. At this and the meetings to follow they drafted by-laws and articles of incorporation, prepared a mission statement, set up the necessary paperwork for a non-profit organization and established dues for membership: $5 Individual, $10 for Family, $25 Sponsor, $50 Patron, $100 Benefactor, and $500 Lifetime. The doors opened for a “soft” opening the day after Labor Day, on September 4, 2000, due to late delivery of furniture and the all important bookshelf units. So, with 25,000 books and no shelf units, the library’s staff of three arranged the books on planks of wood placed across sawhorses. When the shelf units at last arrived several days later, the doors closed for proper book setup and display, then reopened, this time permanently.
By the time of the August 30, 2000, meeting, the Friends membership had grown to 23. Friends purchase needed items for the library–materials and furniture not covered in the county budget. The Friends of Freedom Public Library have done so from the time the library first opened.
The Friends first book sale occurred in the lobby on Friday and Saturday, December 15 and 16, 2000. Since that time, book sales have been held in the meeting room and the lobby regularly–except for the year 2008. In mid-August of that year, Tropical Storm Fay sent water cascading down the walls like waterfalls, flooding the carpet and causing other damage. The fall book sale of 2008 still occurred, but at the First Congregational Church on St. Rt. 200.
The Friends first annual meeting occurred on Thursday, January 25, 2001. All annual meetings from that time forward have been held on Saturdays, and all have been here at the library’s meeting room. Monthly meetings are held the First Monday of Every Month minus holidays from 1015-1200.
Over the years The Friends have been involved in several major purchases. The first item purchased by the Friends was a large unabridged dictionary. Following that, the Friends bought end cap shelving units for book display, a refrigerator for the staff kitchen–replaced in the last couple of years–large tables for the meeting room, a 35 mm camera, and a Christmas tree, as well as other needed items. Friends sponsored the library’s first birthday, and they continue purchasing items as the need arises. One of the book carousels you see as you enter the library was purchased by the Friends in their second year, 2002. Friends have also spent hard earned money buying new carpeting and several needed items like shelves, furniture reupholstered and new computers.