The President's Letter

Our Newsletter Continues to Evolve

     Chances are that you’ve already noticed something different with our newsletter. For example, if you’re reading this in a printed copy, then you already know that we’ve reduced it from eight pages to four, running shortened versions of the articles and referring you to our website for the longer versions.

      And, if you happen to be looking at a digital version that we sent via email, it’s basically the same thing: You can see story headlines, lead-in paragraphs and photos and then click on a link to our website for all the details.

      I know that, for some of our members, that might not be your preferred format. But, I hope you will understand that we’ve made these changes to reduce printing and postage expenses related to producing and distributing the newsletter four times per year. The money we save can then be used to sponsor new activities and events in support of our library, which is why the Friends organization really exists.

      This first round of changes will cut our print costs almost in half. But, it doesn’t impact postage costs because we’re still mailing to some of our members. Later this year or in 2020, we hope to transition to a completely digital newsletter, which will eliminate all newsletter printing and postage expenses.

      But, we’re taking it slowly so that we have time to field your suggestions and make sure we’re still communicating effectively.

      In addition to reducing costs, the digital format will give us a lot more flexibility to produce and distribute newsletters more frequently, which means information can be shared on a timelier basis.

      So, if we don’t already have your email address in our member database, we’ll likely be asking you to share it with us to ensure that you can continue to receive the newsletter when it goes fully digital. Please note that we will never share your email address with anyone outside the Friends.

      I want to thank you in advance for your patience and support as we make this important change in the months ahead.

Ad Hoc Committees Progressing Well

      I mentioned in the January newsletter that the Board of Directors was establishing five ad hoc committees to address a number “growing pain” needs of the organization. Most of the committees have made excellent progress in a short time, and I would like to give you a brief update:

4th of July Committee: There is a whole article dedicated to this in this issue. So, I won’t go into a lot of detail here. But, I am very excited about the changes they’ve made, and I hope you will be, too. We’re going to make it a 3-day event, so more people can attend. We’re going to bring most of the books indoors to escape the brutal July heat. And, we’re freeing up space to park close to the library.

Bylaws Committee: The committee has completed a complete review of the bylaws and the standard operating procedures, made appropriate updates and gotten Board approval. We’re good to go for another two years. In the course of their discussions, the committee determined that the growth in the number of volunteers and complexity of operations warranted the creation of a Volunteer Handbook to enumerate policies. An initial draft is currently under review.

Procedures Committee: While this is a work in progress, many procedures related to individual jobs have been documented in a standard format so that anyone in the organization could step in, if necessary, to handle a job.

Budgeting & Goal Setting: We have completed a detailed expense budget and revenue projection for 2019, anticipating increases in both during the year.

Membership Committee: This group met for the first time in early April with plans to review dues structures, membership terms, membership benefits and more.

Benefits of a Friend's Membership

When you become a Friend, you help support an important part of the social fabric of your community. Plus, you earn "Early Bird" privileges at most book sales, which means you gain entry to the sales in advance of non-members to have first shot at the books of greatest interest to you. And, we will notify you of any scheduled book sales or special events. So, you'll never miss out on an opportunity.  

Find out more

‘Booked for Lunch’ Is on May 30

These Authors Are Well Versed in the Ways Of Poetry

       Co-authors Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen will read poems from their newest book Lake Michigan Mermaids and tell the story of their writing process at the next Booked for Lunch (B4L) on May 30 in the Cascade Library. Lunch begins at 12:30 pm followed by the presentation at 1 pm.

       Have you ever wondered how authors go about writing a book? How do they master the daunting blank page staring unblinkingly at them when they embark on their adventure? Well, as you might guess, there’s not just one way to do it. So, it should be interesting to learn how the guest speakers at the next B4L move from the concept stage to actual publishable poems.

       The Lake Michigan Mermaid tells its “coming of age” story in poems, offering a tender tale of friendship, redemption, and the life-giving power of water. As it explores family relationships and generational bonds, the book aims to connect readers of all ages. This 2019 “Michigan Notable Book Award” winner includes 30 color illustrations by Meridith Ridi.

       The Friends of the Cascade Library sponsors the B4L series. Typically, 40-50 people attend, but there is room for more. If you don’t want lunch, the price is just $5. For lunch and the presentation, the cost is $10 for a member and $12 for a non-member. You can become a member of the Friends at the door. Please register by May 27 by either calling (616) 784-2007 or visiting the KDL website and completing the form.


Book Discussion ‘Season’ Winds Up

Book Discussion ‘Season’ Will Conclude May 20 with Mark Helprin’s ‘Paris in the Present Tense’

       Once each month from September through May - except December - a group of 18 to 20 book lovers gets together in the Cascade Library to share their thoughts and opinions about the characters, plot and messages contained in a book they have selected. 

       The 2018-2019 book discussion series will wrap up on May 20 at 10 am when the group gathers to discuss Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin. The book is set in present-day Paris and follows the journey of a Holocaust survivor who tries to find balance between strong obligations to the past and the attractions and beauties of life and love in the present.

       “We usually have open and respectful discussions about a novel that can expand our collective understanding of the author’s intent and the story’s themes,” explained Linda Berra, who facilitates the discussions for the Friends.

       And, if one member’s take on the discussions is any indicator, Berra isn’t exaggerating.

       “This is one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Janice Slater, a frequent participant in the book discussions. “It’s led me to read so many books I never would have read, otherwise.”

       Berra said she encourages newcomers to attend the May 20 discussion to see if they might want to commit to attending more often when the 2019-2020 season kicks off in September.

        “It doesn’t matter if they’ve read the book,” she said. “It’s fine if they just want to observe and get a sense of what it’s about.  There is no cost to participate, other than the cost of the book, and you don’t need to reserve a spot.”

Linda Berra (standing) is shown here with the March book discussion group .

Linda Berra (standing) is shown here with the March book discussion group .

Your Donations IN ACTION

New Bookends Add Efficiency and Comfort for Library Staff

With money raised through the resale of books donated by the community and from membership fees, the Friends organization is able to support many of the special needs of the library. And, while much of that support takes a very public shape in events, some of it is less visible. 

       The most recent was the purchase of 1,200 bookends to tidy up the library shelves and make life a lot easier on the library’s staff, according to Vanessa Walstra, Cascade Branch Library Manager.

       “We are in the process of pulling out the old wire book stops and already are seeing a difference in the look of our junior non-fiction and early readers sections,” she said. 

       She added that shelvers have said the new bookends make their jobs a lot easier and less painful because they don’t have to squeeze the book stops every time they shelve a book.

       “I took some of the old ones out and was quickly reminded how hard the squeezing is on hands,” Walstra said. “We are incredibly grateful to the Friends and community members who donate used books, money and time to make something like this possible.”

Vanessa Walstra, Cascade Branch Library manager, recently installed the first of 1,200 new bookends.

Vanessa Walstra, Cascade Branch Library manager, recently installed the first of 1,200 new bookends.

Changes to 4th of July Book Sale


       The Friends are making some changes to the format of their annual 4th of July used book sale to make shopping more convenient and comfortable for community members.

        The changes will include expanding the event to a 3-day sale, bringing most of the displays indoors to escape the heat and freeing up more parking close by for customers, according to Kathy Wosinski, sales events chair.

        “The Fourth is a very busy day for most families, and we want to make it possible for them to shop for some low-priced used books and still be able to attend their family picnic and fireworks,” Wosinski said. “So, we’re expanding to a 3-day sale, starting on July 3 and ending July 5.”

        She said that the intense July heat has discouraged shoppers in recent years or sent them home early. So, this year the Friends will be displaying most of the books in the library’s air-conditioned Wisner Center. Wosinski said they expect to display approximately 40,000 books for all ages and interests throughout the three-day sale.

        “We will have an all-indoor sale on July 3 for members-only from 9 to 10 am and for the general public from 10 am to 4 pm,” she said. “Then, we’ll have books both inside and outside for the ‘Main Event’ on July 4 from 8:30 am to 3 pm., and we’ll wind up with some special discounts for everyone on July 5 from 9 am to 2 pm.”

        Wosinski said that a side benefit of moving indoors would be freeing up the library’s parking lot to allow shoppers to park closer and not have to carry their books as far. She added that they would be re-stocking the displays with additional books throughout the sale.

        “So, if you can’t make it the first day, don’t worry…you won’t miss out on all the best titles.”

To volunteer to work the book sale, please contact Bette McCune at

To volunteer to work the book sale, please contact Bette McCune at

Friends Memorial Scholarship Awards

2 FHC Seniors Earn 2019 Friends Memorial Scholarship Awards

       Two outstanding young Forest Hills Central students emerged from an accomplished group of applicants to win the 2019 Cascade Memorial Scholarship Awards. Each will receive $1,500 toward their post-high school education.

       The winners are Eleanor Hoss and Kathryn Frazer, who both see nursing as the likely focus of their college studies.

       The scholarships are awarded to graduating high school students who have demonstrated a commitment to volunteerism during their high school years and have submitted a brief essay explaining how they have benefited from sharing their time and talents with others.

       “It is always difficult selecting winners from the amazing young people who have accomplished so much during their high school years and have taken the time to document what they have learned and gained in an essay,” explained Debbie Straub, past president of the Friends and coordinator of the scholarship program. “But, these two young women are exemplary representatives of that group and of the greater community of young people in Forest Hills.”

       While all forms of volunteerism are considered and lauded by the selection committee, Straub said that time dedicated in volunteering to support library activities is given a little extra weight in the evaluations.

       “All other things being equal, the tiebreaker is often how much the candidates have given their time to the Cascade branch of the library and the Friends organization,” she explained. “And, both Kathryn and Eleanor have given very generously and effectively of their time to the library. We are both thrilled and honored to have them as our 2019 scholarship winners.”


2nd Annual 'Cascade Picture contest'

Library Ready to Kick Off 2nd Annual ‘Cascade Picture Contest’ Competition

       Interest in Artprize might have been part of the inspiration behind the Cascade Library’s very successful “Cascade Picture Contest” last year. The first in what the staff hopes will be an annual event saw scores of original photographs submitted by local amateur photographers of all ages and backgrounds.

       Last year, the staff had the difficult task of selecting the top 40 entries and then had them mounted on canvasses and displayed on the many walls in the library so that library patrons could vote on their favorites. In the end, three entrants won a Kindle Fire and, more importantly, recognition of their artistic efforts (see winning photos below).

       “Library staff and patrons have enjoyed these photos of local landmarks, flora and fauna all year,” said Vanessa Walstra, Cascade Branch Library manager. “Of course, there were more than a few family pets thrown in for good measure.”

       She added that the photos have been a wonderful addition to the building and have helped increase awareness of the many beautiful sites around Cascade.

       “We will begin to communicate more about the 2019 contest in May,” she said, “and will begin accepting submissions in June. So, I hope everyone has begun to snap this year’s winning photos.”


Flowering Dogwood by Nora Ingram


Come a Little Bit Closer by Michele Miller


All American Dog by Claire M.