Bi-Monthly Newsletter

About Us, Awards and Donations

Click here to view photos of our 20th Anniversary Celebration!

Twentieth Anniversary of the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library

As we celebrate 20 years of our outstanding Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library, let's take a look back
at the highlights and accomplishments during these years. Started as a volunteer library in 1985, a temporary County Branch Library for PVB opened in the County Annex Building in 1987. Thanks to the constant lobbying of the Friends of the Library, along with an exchange of donated property to the present site on A1A and Solano Road, the first 11,700 square feet of the current building was dedicated in May 1993. It was too small the day it opened!

In March1999, a revised plan for expansion was submitted to the county. The FOL offered a $250,000 donation to to include the present FOL Community Room, and the PGA Tour donated $10,000 a year for 10 years for the Multi-Media Room. Construction of 24,800 square feet began in late 2001 while the library functioned at the Palm Valley Community Center. The official opening was on August 11, 2002, followed by a Friends' Festival held in September 2002 to welcome families to the sparkling new facility with more than double the previous space. An elementary schools contest named the book worm topiary Seymour Books, which became the name of the new FOL used book store.

Our Friends of the Library has one of the largest and most generous memberships in the United States,
which has enabled us, along with book sales totaling between $40,000 and $58,000 each year, to continue to
enhance the needs of the library, including computers, books, furnishings, and programs. The Friends established an Endowment Fund, furnished the FOL Community Room, purchased the baby grand piano, signage, and an intercom system for the library. To enhance programming, the FOL created the Adventures in Art series, the Music Series, the PV Forum, Ponte Vedra Raises Readers, continued Friends on the Go, and sponsored the Great Decisions and Great Books discussion groups. With partner FOCUS Cummer, the FOL filled buses for Art Tours to Winter Park, Sarasota, Philadelphia, and South Beach. This money also supports the summer FLYP programs of Fun with Flowers, magic and puppet shows, nature shows, ice cream parties, and more than 140 children's programs.

Ponte Vedra Reads Cross Creek was a huge community success. The Major Author Series, initiated with a grant from Readers Digest, opened with a sellout crowd of 700 for Mary Higgins Clark, and went on to welcome Tony Horwitz, Anita Shreve, William Safire, Walter Isaacson, Khaled Hosseini, Sue Monk Kidd, David Baldacci, Sara Gruen, and children's authors Steven Kellogg and Denise Fleming.

Behind the library, the Courtyard for Reading was built, along with a reading walk of bricks donated by
community members. A second Family Fest was held, new cabinets for the entry and book drop purchased, a
new children's desk designed and installed, Seymour's Bookstore expanded and a new sign constructed.
The annual Jack Morgan Volunteen Scholarship of $1,000 was established to recognize the contributions of one or more worthy teen volunteers in the library.

But it’s not all about the money. Volunteers provide almost 10,000 hours per year of service aid. Our valuable Branch Manager and Library Staff deserve congratulations for their achievements. They design a variety of programs for all age groups, arrange for local artists to display their work in the entry gallery, supervise the Teen Advisory Board, created a Teen Center, reorganized the Children's Area to be a welcoming place, host well-attended children's parties, answered reference questions, conducted the annual St. Johns Reads and performed a multitude of other duties for our patrons. During these twenty years, many monetary and in kind donations from individuals and organizations have benefited the library and community. We are all deeply appreciative. The efforts of many devoted board members, committed volunteers and very professional Branch Managers and staff members have made our library what it is today - a superb community resource - the best and most wonderful place to be. Grateful thanks to all.

-Carolee Bertisch


Nature Mosaic in Bird Island Park

On a beautiful, cool, clear morning in March the public was invited to come to the area behind the library called Bird Island Park to dedicate the Nature Mosaic in the space under the risers of the storytelling area in the back of the park. Artists Terry Nicholas and Charles Hatchell designed and commissioned Craig Pedroni to make the bird supports for the Art Benches, and artist Thaida Bonner created magnolia mosaics. A gigantic Sea Turtle and a sculpture of a girl reading were added among the lush trees. Mrs. Letitia (Tish) Westervelt Smith and Mr. Jan Robert Westervelt desired to create a nature mosaic in memory of their mother, Doris F. Westervelt. “The mosaic represents our mother’s love of walking on the beach and in the woods, her desire to offer educational opportunities to all and to have foreign visitors enjoy a unique work of art, as she had enjoyed so many times in foreign lands,” said Mrs. Smith.

This work is indeed unique. Two local artists, Wendy Mandel McDaniel and Jan Tomlinson Master, were asked to create a flora and fauna which would replicate nature scenes found in Northeast Florida’s upland hammock, coastal dune and freshwater marsh. Children made tiles out of clay and plant pressings and glass artisans constructed images of lifelike renditions of birds and animals found in the area. Volunteers from Vicar’s Landing spent countless hours gluing pebbles and tiles on the panels, which were 200 linear feet long. These panels were then installed by volunteers from the community. This colorful and intricate mosaic depicting nature came together and can now be enjoyed by all. Only two areas have words written on the tiles. One says “In memory of Doris F. Westervelt.” The other is a quote from her son: “We are each a tile in nature’s mosaic.”

The Bird Island Park, opened in 2010, is the result of the cooperation of members of the Ponte Vedra community and St. Johns County Recreation and Parks department, which is the caretaker. The park will be part of an audio tour of the A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway. To find out more, log onto www.floridascenichighways.com and www.byways.org. Take a friend, your children, your parents to this beautiful area in Bird Island Park, look at the mosaic closely, listen to the chatter of the birds.


Florida Library Association Honors FOL-Ponte Vedra

The Florida Library Association has recognized the Friends of the Library--Ponte Vedra for its Antique Appraisal Showcase event, conducted last February. The Honorable Mention award was in the Outstanding Programs category of FLA’s Friends, Foundations, and Boards Awards for 2011. The Friends group will be recognized at the FF&B Luncheon on May 5 at the FLA Conference in Orlando.

Only in its second year, the Antique Appraisal Showcase attracted nearly 500 people who brought their family heirlooms and garage sale treasures to be appraised by nine expert appraisers offering unofficial oral appraisals of everything from fine art and jewelry to coins, toys and books. FOL-PV President Shari Naman chaired the event for the second year, and was thrilled by the number of people who attended, nearly doubling the participants from last year's event. “We couldn’t believe how many people showed up. We had to open the doors early because there were so many people in line they were backing up into the main library,” said Ms. Naman.

She also expressed her gratitude to the Board of Directors who all worked to make the event a success. "This was a real team effort, and we're thrilled to be recognized by the Florida Library Association."


An FOL Thank you!

To the Home Depot of Jacksonville Beach who added to the charm of our wonderful library dollhouse. Without any cost to us, Home Depot painted and mounted the handsome lattice on the dollhouse base.
To the Palm Valley Funeral Home and Cemetery for providing the lattice that now enhances the base.

These two organizations care about community service and we thank them for their help.
Come take a look….


Seymour Books

The Library has been the fortunate recipient of a wonderful and generous donation from Jean Armstrong, widow of the late Vice Admiral Parker B. Armstrong.  She chose our library to receive one of her most cherished possessions—the Armstrong Dollhouse.

Mrs. Parker B. Armstrong, center, and her daughters, (left) Mrs. Carol Dillon and (right) Mrs. Alice Wilson,
reassembling the dollhouse for display.

In an email interview with Amy Ring, Ms. Alice Wilson, daughter of Jean Armstrong, recounted the history and details of this valuable gift.  The description below is in Ms. Wilson’s own words. 

My father started the dollhouse in 1977 while he was still active in the Navy....he was interested in starting a hobby before he retired.  He built it room by room, not really having a specific plan or ultimate design for the house.  The shingles were tongue depressors that my father stained and hand cut. There are 1500 shingles.  My father also built a lot of the furniture (from kits) and it was very important to both my parents that everything looked authentic. 

"My mother was the decorator, and wherever they traveled she was always looking for something to add to the dollhouse.  Most of the curtains, sheets, pillows are made from old handkerchiefs that belonged to my grandmother. All the photos in the house are of our family members (the whole family is now on stairway hall, first floor) with my dad in the middle. 

“Many of my mother's friends and relatives contributed to the dollhouse. [It] includes things from all over the world.  Most of the rugs are hand stitched needlepoint made by....friends.  My grandmother did a lot of the small stitchery projects such as the quilt on the grandmother's bed.  All of the silver in the dining room is real sterling silver, and was just recently polished by myself and my sister!  

“Many little things such as [the electric] lamps, wastebaskets, and small items were made by my mom with something she found around the house, like a toothpaste cap, or perfume bottle cap. She always had her eye out for something she could transform into a dollhouse item. 

“The dollhouse took 10 years to complete, and it has resided in 10 different locations.  From Washington,  D.C. to Florida, to New Hampshire to North Carolina and back to Florida in 2006 for my Mom's 89th birthday. After my dad died in 2003, my mom was really wishing she had the dollhouse back because she had so many great memories of creating it with my dad. I was the caretaker of the dollhouse from 1998 until 2006. 

“Hundreds and hundreds of people have viewed the house.  My parents were always very social people, and every time they had a party, their guests loved seeing the dollhouse.  Anyone with children always loved coming to see the dollhouse. 

“[The dollhouse] is really all about something very special that our parents shared in their later years.  They were so happy while they were working on this project, and my mother continues to say how impressed she was with my father's talent...she never knew he would enjoy something like this, and how long the interest in it lasted.  

“My mother [Mrs. Armstrong] actually created a “story” of the dollhouse and its family.  It really centers around a wealthy grandmother who owned the house, and let her son and daughter-in-law move in to take care of her and the house.  Her son may have been in the Navy, but we are not sure.  The couple had a daughter and two boys (maybe twins). 

 “The grandmother continually talked about moving back to England (where she is from..that's why she has the crown jewels and portrait of the Queen on the third floor). The grandmother did not like sharing the third floor bathroom with the twin boys because they were messy; they were sent to use the maid's bathroom on the second floor!

“[My mother] really told [the story] more like a soap opera...and my mother loves a good soap opera story!”


Be sure to drop by the library and see this amazing miniature creation.  It is truly a "labor of love" and work of art.  You may even get a glimpse of the family!   


Bird Island Park

In our "back yard"

BirdIslandParkSign PlayersPavilion
Players Pavilion
Park Grounds
Rookery Pavilion


A History of the Friends of the Library, 2001- 2007


Libraries have always had Friends. Historically, there were John Harvard, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson,William Rind, Horace Mann, Melvil Dewey, and Andrew Carnegie. These men brought us the public library system that we have today – 17,000 main and branch libraries. 

In 1876, the American Library Association became very active. It had a committee concerned with Friends of the Library groups which were initially active in Hawaii and New York. In 1975, this committee surveyed the known FOL organizations and found that there was interest in sharing ideas for FOL activities, so in 1979, Friends of the Library USA was incorporated. By 2004 it had over 2,000 member groups, with the Ponte Vedra FOL joining in 1985. 

The Early Days by Jack Morgan 

Later history by Mimi Kelley

   Jack Morgan Memorial Fountain