About Felton Library Friends
Vision & Mission
The Felton Branch Library and Discovery Park is a vibrant community center for learning, sharing, and discovery—a welcoming place with space and services to inspire and connect people of all ages.
The Felton Library Friends work toward the following mission:
Identify and support the library, park, and community-led programming and services
Collaborate with community organizations, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Santa Cruz County Parks, and the San Lorenzo Valley Water District on agreed-upon projects
Advocate for the needs of the library and park
Fundraise for identified needs not covered in library or park operational or capital budgets
The Felton Library Friends is guided by the following values:
Community Assets: We believe in honoring, serving, and building on the resourcefulness and resilience of our mountain communities.
Environmental Stewardship: We believe in creating a sustainable future by promoting opportunities for environmental learning and action.
Growth: We believe that everyone learns in a variety of ways and settings, both indoors and outdoors.
Creativity: We believe that all people have talent, skills, creativity, and the ability to contribute to a thriving community.
Collaboration: We believe that collaboration leads to inclusiveness, equity, and understanding within the community.
Connections: We believe that all life forms are connected and the well-being of all is interdependent.
Felton Library Friends is a chapter of Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit.
If you love the library and park, you are a Felton Library Friend!
All interested Friends are invited to come to in-person FLF meetings, and to consider joining a team or volunteering in some other way. Meetings are held on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in the Community Room. Read the notes from our recent meetings here.
FLF Leadership Team
The FLF Leadership Team supports the vision and mission of Felton Library Friends. The Leadership Team communicates with our community; plans monthly meetings; votes on expenditures; works with volunteers; collaborates on projects with SCPL, the Parks Department, and local nonprofit organizations; plans fundraising/friend-raising events; coordinates the work of the FLF Teams; maintains relationships with donors; and represents our chapter on the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries board.
Leadership Team Members
Nancy Gerdt, President
Judi Sherman, Secretary
Michele Mosher, Treasurer
A Bit of FLF History
The current library site in 2006
Felton Library Friends (FLF) formed in May 2005 after residents of the San Lorenzo Valley successfully fought the proposed closure of the Felton Branch Library located in the 1,250-square-foot Belardi Building. From then until 2016, FLF members advocated for a new Felton branch and produced many fundraising/friend-raising events to keep library needs in the community’s consciousness and to raise funds to support an eventual capital campaign. FLF leaders participated in library governance committees and on the board of Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. FLF members played crucial roles in protecting the current branch from additional closure attempts in 2008 and 2011. FLF was involved in passing Measure R in 2008 and Measure S in 2016 to fund the library system.
After the passage of Measure S in 2016 insured funding for construction, FLF members worked closely with Library Director Susan Nemitz, County officials, Architect Teall Messer, Parks planners, and others on features of the new library. FLF was instrumental in developing the concept and plans for the adjacent Felton Discovery Park with the SC County Parks Department, including restoration of riparian areas.
From 2017 through 2019, FLF conducted a successful capital campaign to provide essential enhancements for the library and park and to create a fund to support ongoing programming. Following the February 2020 opening of the library and park, Felton Library Friends’ primary focus has been to support the Library and Park through partnering on projects, volunteering, and fundraising.
View a brief slideshow of the history of the Felton Branch and Felton LIbrary Friends here.
Stories from the Community
“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” – Ray Bradbury
You can reinvent yourself at the library, as many times as you like. I certainly did.
When I was in grade school and high school in Texas where I grew up I didn’t apply myself. I had a difficult family life and I slipped through the cracks of the system. I was not college-bound.
During one of the last spring breaks of high school, I visited a friend out in California, in Sonoma over spring break. I had an awakening there. I fell in love with the place. I met people like me who liked what I liked, who loved what I loved. I determined at that point that after high school I would move to California, find a nice town with a community college and good libraries and give myself a second chance.
Santa Cruz was the place. You all know why. The weather, the location, the people. I got a job as a bank teller and went to Cabrillo. I applied to UCSC when I first arrived just for the heck of it. They more or less laughed me off the campus when they saw my high school grades and test scores. This motivated me. I had something to prove now.
When I was not in class at Cabrillo I was working downtown at the bank. On every break, I would walk over to the library. I used the resources there to discover jazz and classical music, to watch old educational PBS and BBC programs like Nova and Connections. I sucked up eastern philosophy books. I read the classics. I explored poetry. All the while, right next to me people were studying to become welders or car mechanics or nurses or farmers or chefs, you name it.
For me, a library is a place to fill out an empty part of yourself. It’s a place to remake yourself. It’s a place to start over and become a better version of yourself.
Thanks to the resources available and to my motivation to use them I eventually transferred from Cabrillo to Stanford. There I gained proof that I was perfectly intelligent and capable. Today I am a successful entrepreneur. I run a company that supports many families. I have a healthy happy family, a good life, and a contented soul.
Much of what I have is due to my local library.
As a young boy, I thought reading was not for me. Sitting still was truly a challenge, and the classroom seemed to be the hardest place for me to learn. Being a child, I thought that I was not smart enough to focus in a classroom and that my inability to sit still and stick with the task at hand made me different. I felt I was labeled as a “bad kid.” It would have been monumental if I had known then what I know now. If I had the opportunity to learn, for example, about a bee’s behavior by watching it suckle on wildflowers, AND THEN, bring a book outside with me to identify which type of bee I was looking at, I would have found solace in nature, and in books, long ago.
Luckily when I was 18 I moved to Vermont and finally found that solace in nature. For one of my first science labs, I needed to go observe ecological systems. I would spend time in the forest near my university, reading, writing, and observing… and, for the first time in my life, reading was no longer a chore. I wasn’t just reading science abstracts in the woods either… I was now doing most of my reading outside. Currently, I am an outdoor educator. I work with students each week, and I witness the same struggles I battled in my youth.
What I have learned, is that my mind works better when my body is working too, it is not that I was stupid, or a bad kid. Four walls and a desk just didn’t WORK for me. The movement of my hands and my body help to quiet my mind.
When I teach now, you will find me with something in my hand. A stick to pull apart, a rock to rub. The small movement with my hands helps immensely in my ability to sit still and concentrate. I offer this technique to my students. And the results are striking.
When I started taking students outside, I realized children that have difficulty in a classroom were the ones who flourish when they are outside. I saw these students able to stay on task, concentrate better, and push the conversations we were having even further than some of their peers who do great in a classroom setting. I used to run a summer camp in Colorado called Book Trails. We would take campers outside, read adventure books, and do activities based on the books. When I met Nancy Gerdt along with Michele and Jim Mosher, I shared this personal story with them, and their eyes lit up. I didn’t know it then, but they were in the midst of a 15-year vision to create a space for the kinesthetic learner.
This library park combination is a beautiful opportunity because it creates a learning environment for all different kinds of students.
I want to thank you all for listening to my story and for supporting this legacy. This project is going to change the lives of learners, of all ages, in our community.