History of Friends of the Freedom Public Library

 Our History

Freedom Public Library exists today because residents of the State Road 200 Corridor and its surrounding communities wanted a local, full service library. People objected o going al 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 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. The 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 on September 4, 2000, due to late delivery of furniture and the all-important bookshelf units. So, with 25,000 book 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 sales are still being 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 occurred 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 books displays, 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 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.