Longtime local resident Ruth Erickson was recently honored for 40 years of volunteering for the Friends of the San Benito County Free Library.
Erickson became president of the local organization in 1983, and since then has tirelessly volunteered her efforts to successfully build the organization’s membership rolls, advocate for the library and organize fundraisers, according to Susan Logue, current president of the Friends of the San Benito County Library.
Over the years, Erickson has reliably applied her talents and skills as a designer and writer to design posters and flyers, as well as newsletters and newspaper articles; invite speakers for educational programs; and speak to community groups, board of supervisors and city council meetings.
Erickson was honored for her decades of volunteer service on March 28 with a proclamation by the board of supervisors. She was further recognized by the library and the nonprofit Friends of the San Benito County Library organization—the latter of which treated Erickson to a luncheon at Paine’s restaurant.
Erickson said she was “very honored” to receive the proclamation. She said volunteering and the concept of giving one’s skills to improve the community have been instilled in her since her childhood in England. Her parents were volunteers, and taught her that communities grow best when dedicated people contribute.
“If you see a need and can help, help,” Erickson said. “People can share their talents with everybody. If you have talents, share them. If you’ve got ideas, share them.”
As a Friends of the Library volunteer, Erickson works with the children’s summer reading programs, performing as various cultural and historical figures and putting together programs. She often reads to children for storytime and teaches crafting workshops, Logue said.
She has arranged displays and exhibits in the library, which is located at 470 Fifth St. in Hollister, and at various city and county events. Erickson has also planned and put together entries in local parades, including the annual Fourth of July Kiddie Parade, where she plays the part of Betsy Ross.
Erickson attended many California Library Association conferences with late former County Librarian Jo Wahden, and with current Librarian Nora Conte.
When the library was light on funds in the 1980s, Erickson and Wahden reached an agreement with Soledad State Prison inmates to read books on tape for the visually impaired, and with the San Jose Mercury News to accept new books from their weekly book review columns, Logue said. Through Hollister’s Sister Cities program, Erickson established a Japanese Collection at the local library.
Erickson was also part of two committees that advocated for a new library as the county outgrew its current building, which has housed the library since the 1960s.
She is looking forward to the Friends’ work to expand the present library, and hopes that, in the future, San Benito County will have a new library building to accommodate the growing community, Logue said.
“I enjoy seeing kids, seeing people enjoy themselves with something unusual other than the everyday” routine, Erickson said. “It’s great to meet all the people that see what’s going on.”
The Friends of the San Benito County Free Library is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization whose “goal is to promote the welfare and growth of the San Benito County Free Library by providing support to enrich the library’s resources and make its services better known to the community,” says the nonprofit’s website.
To learn more about the Friends or to sign up to become a member, visit their website at sbcfriends.org.