It’s only fitting that now the bibliophile is president of the Friends of Ridgewood Library.
A support group for the library, it provides programming and materials. One of their major functions is “fun and fundraising” for the Ridgewood branch, Searle said.
Last year, the organization raised more than $6,000 at their events. Most of it was matched by foundation grants, so in total, they raised more than $10,000, all to benefit Ridgewood Library.
“I see the kids in there. Sometimes, the kids are nine years old and sometimes they’re 90 years old,” Searle said. “But they all, all ages, all economic groups, come to the library.”
Libraries today have become more like cultural centers, offering resources and books in a variety of languages. Searle noted that’s especially the case in Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in the world.
From books in hundreds of languages to laptops and Kindles, libraries are now more important than ever.
That’s why Searle wants to support them so much. He said nearby libraries in Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth do not have friends groups, which he is hoping to change.
“What we’re doing for our library, every library needs,” he said.
Searle is already working with community members on setting up friends groups. In Glendale, the library is currently under construction, but residents are attending the Friends of Ridgewood Library meetings to learn how to organize.
Once Searle helps set up friends groups nearby, his goal is to ensure all 65 branches of the Queens Library have friends group. Right now, he estimates about half of them have that support group of neighbors and customers.
“That’s a shame because every one of them should have one,” he said.