A ‘Special Friend’ Indeed—
WHO LEADS FROM EXPERIENCE
The Bonita library has a “special friend” who knows the importance of libraries from personal experience. Helena Nesbit, president of the Friends of the Bonita Springs Library, came to the United States from postWorld War II Germany as a 4-year-old. Sponsored by a church to immigrate to Connecticut, no members of her family knew the English language.
But, by luck, there was a library around the corner from their new home. Nesbit explains that the librarian there “took me under her wing,” teaching the young girl about all kinds of words and pictures. “I credit her for opening up my world,” Nesbit insists. “I grew up loving libraries.”
Nesbit’s newfound skills enabled her to read and explain item labels to her mother at the supermarket. The overall experience, she emphasizes, taught her the importance of libraries’ having books as well as newspapers and computers available for patrons of modest means. She went on to a career teaching reading and writing skills—and much more—in elementary schools.
Nesbit, of Palmira Golf & Country Club in Bonita, looks upon the Friends of the Bonita Springs Library as a charity whose proceeds stay close to home. She is passionate about raising money—averaging about $15,000 a year— via author talks and sales of donated books, CDs, DVDs and puzzles, to supplement basic Lee County budgeting.
She gathers materials herself and makes sure unsold items get good homes. Throwing away a book is unthinkable for her.
Nesbit longs for the extra space on tap for the new library so that programs such as discussion groups and author talks can accommodate more people. Gone are the days when the Friends of the Bonita Springs Library would fund a guest speaker for a maximum seated audience of only 38.
Often, the organization’s board members would choose to give up their own places for more of the public to attend and enjoy. The upcoming new library is a far cry from the original idea of a library in Bonita, which was sparked by a patron asking to borrow a book from a local beauty salon in 1949.
—JL $14 million building to open in summer 2019 in heart of downtown