Written by: Anton M., Marketing and Events Coordinator
Sandy Wittie is the current President of the Friends of the Round Rock Public Library. Wittie has been an active member of the Friends for 26-and-a-half years and has served on the Board for 26 years of those years. Wittie and her husband moved to Round Rock in 1996.
Wittie admits to have “always been a library person”. After coming to the Library and seeing the Mystery Night event in 1997, when the Library was in old building on 216 E. Main Street. For Mystery Night, the Friends put on a play at the old Senior Center. It was at that event, Wittie decided to sign up to become a Friends member.
A few months later, after being called by one of active Friends members at Mystery Night, she was asked to consider serving on the Board for the upcoming year. She has been an active member on the Board ever since. At the time she joined, there were five Board members and four at-large members.
Read the interview about Sandy Wittie and her journey as one of the prominent members and supporters of the Friends of the Round Rock Public Library.
What does your job entail as a Friends member?
I am the President; I keep watch on everything. People come and talk to me about things they want to do or problems they see. I, kind of, delegate. If somebody needs support somewhere, I try to go to as many activities as I can.
I think that scares some people because they think if they are President, they are going to have to go to all of the events and that is not true. I think President is easier than a lot of the jobs [on the Board].
Who inspired you to pursue the active role in the Friends group?
I can remember when I was in grade school – and we lived in Richland Hills – which is a southeast suburb of Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and dad would drive me and my three siblings to the Fort Worth Library every Saturday. That was when it was in the old three-story building that came to a point at the front [of the building].
We would spend the day there looking for books to check out. And then, of course, my brother and I would run up the steps and slide down the banisters [which you weren’t supposed to do]. They had old records and you could sit in a little place and (with headphones) listen to music.
In the children’s area, they had a stereoscope that you could put up [to the light] and turn to look at the colors. You could put pictures on there and you could sit there and just flip through. It was just something that you did.
A few years later, the Fort Worth Library did a book mobile. Once a week, my mother would walk the four of us down to City Hall and we would turn in books and check out more books. I was just a big reader. It expands your world.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who is hesitant to join the Friends?
The Library is very important to the City. To me, it is more important than all of the sports programs. But, that is my opinion. We need to support our Library to provide volunteer work, to do things to raise money for activities or books, or whatever that is needed.
What are the toughest challenges you’ve had as a Friend?
Sometimes, it is getting the volunteers to do an activity. To raise awareness and get more people.
I can remember Cindy Hambrick when I first joined. She was president. She went to some of the children’s hours and she dressed up one time as a chicken trying to get the parents to be involved. But, she realized that they take so much when you’re raising kids that you can’t give as much to the Friends.
I think it’s, sometimes, finding more people on the Board, which we are finding more now. That really is a challenge. People that want to give you their time. So many people have family, and jobs, especially jobs that make them travel. So, that is the hard part.
What is the typical commitment for someone that would invest in the Board?
We have monthly meetings, if you serve on the Board, we ask you try to make all of the monthly meetings. They are easier right now since we are doing virtual on a lot of them.
We try, now, to have committees of people that support each programmer. Like the person doing the events, we try to have someone that is helping them do the job, so it is not falling just on their shoulders.
What’s your secret talent no one knows about?
I am OCD. I make lists all the time. Everything I do, I make a list. And then I can mark on it when I get little things done. When we have a meeting, and people talk about things that need to be done. Anything that I say I am going to do, after the meeting, I try to whip it out. Because if I don’t, then it doesn’t get done. Until the next meeting and someone says, “What did you do about this”or “that”?
Who are some of your biggest inspirations within the Friends of the Round Rock Public Library?
Bonnie Horowitz and Linda Beebe. Because they have put so much time and effort in.
Bonnie’s husband, Norm. He was always good with so much of his information. When we were working on bylaws, he would always read them through and tell us how to word it to make sure we were accurate and stuff like that.
Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.
I am an animal person. I if one of my animals die, I cry. They are my kids. Right now, I only have two. But, at times, we have had four or five cats and a couple of dogs. I have an 80 pound Golden Retriever, he is nine. I have a 15-year-old Ragdoll cat who is kind of getting near the end of his age. My dog’s name is Phoenix and my cat’s name is Rocky.
Why should someone join the Friends of the Round Rock Public Library?
It’s a good activity. It supports the library. In that way, it supports the community. If we didn’t have libraries, it would be a sad spot. It is a place in the summer for people to come when it is hot. In the winter, when it is cold.
It’s where the kids can come after school even if they don’t want to check out a book. It gives them somewhere to be. So that they are not just out getting in trouble.
The library is very important to the community. And being a Friend, then you can help support the library.
Is there anything that you want to mention outside of the questions that I asked?
Join the Friends! We have our membership coming up on October 15th through the 22nd. You can join any time. You can join online. We have people here on Sundays at a table, if people want to join.
If you would like to learn more about how to join the Friends of the Round Rock Library, please visit roundrocktexas.gov/friends.