About Us – Old

Mission, Vision, Goal

Our mission is to raise supplemental funds the Freedom Public Library can use to develop and promote library resources, services and facilities for our community

We envision the Freedom Public Library as a mainstay in our community

Our goal is to increase public awareness of the Freedom Public Library and the role the Friends play in carrying out our mission by actively engaging with residents, homeowners, associations, businesses, and other community organizations within the southwest corridor of Marion County.

Our tagline is “Meeting Future Library Challenges”

Our Approach

The Friends are dedicated to preserving and strengthening the resources, services and facilities that the library gives freely to our community. We believe that with the help of our community, we can meet the challenges that will accompany the area’s population growth and the library expansion.

The southwest corridor of Marion County has seen phenomenal growth in homes and residents in the past three years. That growth is expected to continue, creating a need for significant increases in library services, materials, facilities and programming.

In anticipation of this growth and consistent with the county’s plan to increase the library to four times its current size, we are seeking fundraising support from residents, businesses and citizen’ groups in southwest Marion County. By working together, we can help the library provide vital resources (not covered in the county’s budget for the library) to our library community.

Core Values

Our core values: Friendship, Literacy, Community, and Continuous Improvement, are the underlying principles that guide our conduct in carrying out our mission and our relationship with the library and the community it serves.

FRIENDSHIP: The work of the Friends is grounded in friendship. This creates a culture of collaboration, engagement and connectivity and ensures that our work goes forward in an atmosphere of caring and encouragement. Among the Friends everyone’s ideas and opinions matter. We share our interests and concerns with one another and take great pleasure in our camaraderie which, in turn, energizes our efforts.

LITERACY: As members of the wider educational community, the Freedom Friends are dedicated to promoting literacy. We commit to making all forms of materials available to the public from print to digital and beyond, from reading nooks to audio stations, tablets, and computers and whatever the future brings. We are especially committed to programs for young readers and to events that nurture children’s learning and love of reading, encourage their curiosity, and above all empower them to live in the world.

COMMUNITY: The Freedom Friends are proud to join with the library in community outreach and community building. We seek to support the library’s commitment to making Freedom Public Library a safe, nurturing and educational environment for children and adults, a place that is open and inclusive and in a very real sense, the heart of the community.

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT: As a nonprofit charity, we organize our work around a continuous improvement process. We project future enhancements to the library that will further enrich the entire community while taking responsibility for careful stewardship of the assets we develop through fundraising, membership, outreach, and obtaining grants and donations.

Our History

The Freedom Public Library exists today because resident of the State Road 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. Years of consultations, planning sessions and searches for an available site passed, and still no progress was made. A desirable site existed further west of 200, but 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, which is where the library stands today.

The Friends 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. The first organizational meeting took place on Wednesday, July 26, 2000. At this and the the meetings to follow they drafted bylaws and articles of incorporation, prepared a mission statement, set up the necessary paperwork for a nonprofit organization, and established dues for membership: $5 individual, $10 family, $25 sponsor, $50 patron, $100 benefactor, and $500 lifetime.

The doors opened for a “soft” opening 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, and then reopened, this time permanently.

By the time of the August 30, 2000 meeting, the Friends membership had grown to 23. Friends purchased needed items for the library – materials and furniture not covered in the county budget; as the Friends have done from the time the library first opened.

The first Friends book sale occurred in the lobby of the library on Friday and Saturday, December 15 and 16, 2000. Book slaes are stillbeing held in the meeting room and the library 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 State Road 200.

The Friends first annual meeting took place on Thursday, January 25, 2001. All annual meetings from that time forward have been held on Saturdays, and all have been held in the library’s meeting room.

The first item purchased by the Friends was a large unabridged dictionary. Following that, the Friends bought end cap shelving units for the book displays, a refrigerator for the staff kitchen, and in the last couple of years replaced 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 continued purchasing items as the need arose. One of the book carousels you see as you enter the library was purchased by the Friends in their second year, 2002.