By James Boyle
For the Wire
If it had not been for the unlimited access to free books and literature at Bensalem Library, Bucks County author D.L. Wilson might never have found his voice and published his own work.
After retiring from his position as CEO in the fashion apparel industry, Wilson spent much of his free time perusing the shelves of his nearby library, looking for new inspiration.
“It allowed me to find the writing styles I enjoyed the most,” said Wilson. “It gave me access and the freedom to search around as much as I wanted.”
The search dug up a treasure trove of opportunity for Wilson, who has found success in non-fiction genres with a bestselling cookbook and a university textbook on the fashion apparel industry, as well as the fiction section with the religious thriller Unholy Grail and his latest work SIROCCO.
It’s the kind of success that Wilson wants to encourage others to experience by taking advantage of the expanding possibilities available at the public library, particularly the Southampton Free Library on Street Road in Upper Southampton.
He spoke to more than 50 guests last week at a Wine & Cheese Fundraiser at Hampton Hall in the Southampton Fire Company, encouraging them to continue their efforts to support the library’s Access the World Capital and Endowment Campaign.
The campaign seeks to raise $575,000 for modernizing and refurbishing the Southampton Free Library and enhance the programming available to children and adults.
According to director Kim Ingram, state budget cuts have hit the public library system hard, but the Southampton branch has managed to keep up with the rising demand for improved technologies and Internet capabilities.
“The township supervisors have been very supportive of us and keeping our budget stable,” said Ingram. “There’s so much potential for real growth, and extra funds will help us expand and improve the facility.”
Ingram wants the library to become one of the top choices when people of all ages are looking to get out of the house and find something to do. The age of running to the library just to get a copy of the new Tom Clancy novel to bring home has evolved to providing a resource for all kinds of media, including downloadable music in the very near future.
“We are weeks away from introducing a music-sharing service for township residents,” said Ingram. “They can download three songs a week for free, and stream three hours of music a day. Technology has been making rapid advances, and we are still figuring out where we fit in.”
The campaign began in February, and Ingram and her volunteers have spent the better part of the year focusing on getting the word out to the community and beyond. Ingram says that their attention has started to shift to finding local businesses to become sponsors and make larger donations, such as the $50,000 contribution from Tri-County Eye Physicians prominently displayed at the benefit.
“I’ve sat on several local and county-wide fundraising boards, and that’s the largest single donation I’ve seen,” said Barbara Abbott, one member of the three-person committee who organized the wine and cheese benefit in less than a month.
Abbott has lived in Upper Southampton for more than 50 years and has used the library faithfully for book clubs, lectures and research materials and is determined to get the community more involved in the facility’s development.
“I believe our library is the heartbeat of Southampton,” she said. “I look around this room and see so many people coming out on a rainy, yucky night, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks that.”
For information about the fundraising campaign, visit www.southamptonfreelibrary.org.