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
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
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.
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
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
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
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….
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
Mrs. Parker B. Armstrong, center, and her
daughters, (left) Mrs. Carol Dillon and (right) Mrs. Alice
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.
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.
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,
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).
grandmother continually talked about moving back to
(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!
History of the Friends of the Library, 2001- 2007
LIBRARIES AND FRIENDS
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
history by Mimi Kelley
Jack Morgan Memorial Fountain