Readings to benefit 'rolling' library

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The Friends of Ben Avon Bookmobile are turning to a classic to help raise money to keep their bookmobile in town.

Members of the Community Theatre Players will perform readings from "Pride and Prejudice" Friday evening in a benefit performance for the Friends. According to Jennifer Bett, who spearheads the Friends group and is a Theatre Players member, a dozen performers will present the edited play of the famous book.

"We each assume a role and will wear 'periodesque' costumes. It should be about two hours," Ms. Bett said.

Ms. Bett said she created the Friends group earlier this year when Ben Avon Council hesitated to fund the $10,000 required to keep the bookmobile coming to the community.

As part of the Allegheny County Library Association, the bookmobile comes to Ben Avon from 10 to 11 a.m. every Saturday.

"I grew up being able to walk to my local library. We order books online, then can go to the bookmobile and pick them up on Saturday mornings," she said.

Ms. Bett said her two daughters, Sarah, 13, and Mara, 11, along with her husband, Michael, enjoy using the services provided by the bookmobile.

"I think it is an important part of our community; it creates a lot of goodwill in a community to have a library," Ms. Bett said.

Fellow Friends member Kristin Thompson agreed.

"We love having the library right here and fully take advantage of it. My daughter, Isabel, loves to pick out a different cookbook every week," she said of her 12-year-old.

The Thompson family also includes 14-year-old Sophie and Ms. Thompson's husband, Nathan.

Ms. Thompson has set up a Facebook page for the group and assists Ms. Bett with fundraising and public awareness. The group shared information with the community during National Library Month and National Bookmobile Day, both held in April.

Ms. Thompson said this first year the group is trying to raise $5,000 to help offset the costs of the bookmobile service.

Along with the performance Friday evening and public awareness activities, the Friends have been soliciting private donations and seeking grants from local organizations.

So far, they have received a $500 grant from the local Avon Club and $2,000 from the company Shenango. Chuck Arrigo, operations manager of the bookmobile said while many might think that a bookmobile is a luxury for a community, it also becomes an established mainstay.

"It could be argued that it is a luxury, but many people look at us as a resource and part of the community," he said. Ben Avon has been receiving services from the bookmobile for more than 40 years and is the only community that still solely funds its visits.

"On a heavy day, we can have over 40 visitors," he said. The librarian, Gloria Lawler, becomes more than "just a librarian" to bookmobile users, Mr. Arrigo said.

"She will email someone and let them know a certain book has come in or look for a book for them," he said.

In addition to the Players' performance, community members can tour the bookmobile Friday evening and purchase desserts.

The tours start at 6:15 p.m. with the performance to start at 7. The event will be at the Community Presbyterian Church in Ben Avon.

A donation of $5 per person will be requested.

Players' readings

Community Theater Players and Friends of Ben Avon Bookmobile are joining efforts to present scenes from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" at 7 p.m. Friday at Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon.

The dramatic reading by a cast of 10 actors will be a benefit to help maintain weekly bookmobile service in Ben Avon.

Free tours of the bookmobile and desserts from the Regency Era will be available for purchase starting at 6:15 p.m. The performance will be at 7 p.m.

The suggested donation is $5 per person. Tickets can be reserved at or can be purchased at the door.


Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer:


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