By Nikki Velarde, The Belton Journal
The Friends of the Lena Armstrong Public Library drew in a crowd of supporters Saturday for their 11th Annual Book and Authors’ Luncheon held in the Lord Conference Center at UMHB. Three local authors were in attendance at the luncheon to showcase their books and promote support for literature.
The Friends of the Library began in 2001 with the purpose to “promote the development of the Lena Armstrong Public Library by raising funds for technology, special books, periodicals, and non-budgeted amenities by promoting and coordinating volunteer help as needed, by developing and implementing programs of community interest, and by being advocates for the advancement of the library.”
The Friends do their book give away projects at Christmas on the Chisolm Trail, Kiwanis Turtle Festival, and the Library’s Summer Reading Program. The Friends have also provided funds for the Library flyers for Altrusa Appletree hygiene bags, Summer Reading Program, updated Microfilm Machine, furniture in the living room and desk and chairs in the youth area, as well as the Bundle of Joy Literacy Project.
“When the Friends added the Book and Authors’ Luncheon they added not just a literary event but a cultural one,” said Library Director, Kim Kroll.
Board Member, Jeannette Kelley, explained that the Luncheon is the Friends’ “annual fundraiser. In fact, it’s our only fundraiser. We consider this a fine cultural event for Belton to bring in authors and to get further support for the Library.”
Each year three local authors are invited to speak at the Luncheon to showcase their work as well as show their support of literature and for the advancement of the library.
Wayne Carpenter, author of “Hard Times and the Mule Died: Tales about Life in Central Texas,” spoke about growing up in Belton in the 50’s and consistently visiting the library.
“I spent many hours at the old Belton Carnegie Library,” Carpenter reminisces. “Nowadays we have Google and smartphones and can quickly look up anything we ever wanted to know; back in the 50s, we had Mrs. Lena Armstrong. She had a permanent twinkle in her eyes; she knew who I was and knew what kind of books I might like. She was a real treasure to our community.”
After a time, the Carnegie Library in Belton was named after Mrs. Lena Armstrong. “This is our library,” Carpenter adds. “I appreciate the time (the Friends) give.”
Ginger Cucolo, a returning author, spoke about her books “The Knoll,” “Beyond the Knoll,” and “Return to the Knoll.” Through her research of Ireland and family history, The Knoll Trilogy grew. “It’s a tender and dear story to me,” Cucolo responds. “One of the greatest joys for myself is to research, and of course thank you to libraries and other ways to be able to help research whether it be online or in the physical location.”
Author Renita Menyhert was at the Luncheon to talk about her book “Ernie Pyle Was My Hero” in which she discusses the amazing story of Robert Wright, a paratrooper in the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment 101st Airborne Division, also known as the Screaming Eagles, during World War II.
“It’s a great event, we have people coming from all over Texas,” said Jane Strong, President of Friends of the Library. “We’ve had a good crowd every year, but we’ve just about outgrown (the lord Conference Center). They’ve been very accommodating.”
At the Lena Armstrong Library, “we want to continue the programs currently in place, they are very effective,” explained Kelley. “We want to get children reading and families to come into the library.”