Annual Meeting of Friends of the Falls of Schuylkill Library, November 10, 2021

Welcome to the 2021 Friends of the Falls of Schuylkill Library Annual Meeting. Whether you are able to join us on Zoom, or you’re reading this online, we appreciate your presence and your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you inside the Library this year.

We have all weathered a very tough year. We hope you and your loved ones have come through it in good health.

After our business meeting this evening, we will have a wonderful presentation by Ellen Prantl, a distinguished Architect and an East Falls resident. We are approaching the 108th birthday of our Falls Branch building and we thought a fitting virtual birthday cake would be a presentation about the building. This program is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Falls of Schuylkill Library and the East Falls Historical Society. Steve Peitzman, Vice President of the EFHS, will share a few words a bit later in the program. Many thanks to the EFHS for working with us – we look forward to more opportunities to work with you all.

We would like to tip our hats to Drew, our Branch Librarian, Meredith, our Children‘s Librarian, and our wonderful Falls Staff for all that they have handled in their work lives over this past year. We held our 2020 Annual Meeting online, as the Library was shut down due to the pandemic, and then, as you know, the boiler system shut down! The Staff worked at other branches that were still open for limited services before returning to the Falls Branch. We appreciate that the City was able to replace the HVAC system as well as doing other repairs inside the Building during that closure.

We offer a big thank you to all of you who advocated to the Free Library of Philadelphia and to our City Council members that repairs should be done on our Branch. Your voices made a difference with this immense project; please know that you mattered. We also are grateful to Neha, our Board chair for Advocacy and our candidate this year for Vice President. Her FFSL  Advocacy leadership, her coordinated work with Drew, Meredith and the Board, and her work with the FFSL membership helped to highlight the urgency and importance of this big repair.

 Although the Library has re-opened, there are restrictions due to COVID for the hours and days of the week the Branch can be open, and what can take place, program-wise, in the Library. For example, we had to cancel the 2021 Spring Book and Garden Sale, the Fall Book Sale, and the East Falls Performers Evening due to those restrictions.

Luckily we were able to hold the December 2020 Holiday Tree Sale, outdoors at Vault and Vine. Our intrepid organizer, John Gillespie, and his fabulous group of volunteers did an amazing job: the trees sold out in record time and because of that, some of the days for the sale were canceled.

Later in the program, John will speak about the 2021 Holiday Tree Sale which will start on Friday December 3. Thank you to Vault and Vine for “hosting” the Tree Sale again! We will have information about this on our website and in our Facebook group. We will also be sending an email about this to all FFSL members who have their email addresses registered with us.

And regarding email addresses, please make sure that your correct email address is on file as part of your membership with us so we are able to reach you in a timely way with news of the Library and the Friends.

You will be hearing about our Financial Report and Membership in our program this evening. So many thanks to you, our members, for your contributions. Because of you, our finances remain secure.

Behind the scenes, our Board has worked hard this year to navigate the unusual bumps in the road. We have worked on helping to support the Staff and our building, and making hard decisions about what we needed to cancel. As we have handled present day events, we have also planned for what we hope will be a COVID-free future.

Our hospitality chairs, Mary Jane and Marie, will be reaching out to you regarding the East Falls Carol Sing & a request to bake cookies for this marvelous East Falls Community Council event. Look for that information sometime after Thanksgiving.

If we can schedule programs in the spring of 2022, you will see a new plant sale that our Garden Committee Chair, Suzanne Penn, will coordinate. We are very excited about her plans for this. We are planning to hold book sales again although no dates have been set.  Please keep saving your books!

Our current Vice President Susan Smith is ending her long tenure on the Board. Thank you, Susan, for your dedication, hard work and all the meetings you attended! You have helped us to grow and prosper and we appreciate all that you have brought to the Friends.

We also want to thank Peg Hallenbeck who spent many years on the Building Committee and, for the last few years, served as Chair of the Committee. Our appreciation to you, Peg, for helping to move projects to completion and for your support of the Board and the Friends.

As I complete my first year as Head of the Board, I continue to be inspired and amazed by the talents and dedicated work of our Board members and Chairs – Susan, Connie, Neha, Peggy, Andrea, Jenna, Suzanne, Wendy, John and Roger plus Marie and Mary Jean.

Please feel free to reach out to us at with your ideas, suggestions and thoughts.

Respectfully submitted,

Martha Fuller