McGregor Library’s Books and Baskets fundraiser a tradition of generosity

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From wine, snacks and gift certificates to bath products, art supplies and handcrafted wooden items, there’s something for everyone in the McGregor Public Library’s annual Books and Baskets silent auction fundraiser. There are nearly 40 baskets or other items, like this handcrafted wooden clock made by Gary Peterson, to bid on until Nov. 19. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

From wine, snacks and gift certificates to bath products, art supplies and handcrafted wooden items, there’s something for everyone in the McGregor Public Library’s annual Books and Baskets fundraiser.

 

“There’s such a variety, and that’s good,” said library director Michelle Pettit. “It’s really great for getting Christmas gifts, potentially, and not having to travel to do it. You’re supporting the library at the same time, and supporting local organizations and people. It’s a lot about community, I think.”

 

2022 marks the McGregor Library’s 16th Books and Baskets. The silent auction fundraiser, through which people bid on baskets of their choice, began in 2006, spawned from a similar idea at the Elkader Public Library. 

 

“It seemed fun and like a good time of year to do it. We’re far enough away that, if we were doing it and they were doing it, it wouldn’t really intersect. So I asked if we could use the idea,” said Pettit. “They were very gracious.”

 

The fundraiser typically brings in 25 to 30 baskets for people to bid on, according to Pettit. Local businesses, organizations and individuals surpassed that total this year, however, donating close to 40.

 

Over a dozen supporters have donated a basket every year since the fundraiser’s inception. For others, it’s a newer tradition.

 

“A lot of these every year have themes, or something they are sort of known for,” Pettit said.

 

Strutt Chiropractic Clinic, for example, highlights the Elkader Opera House due to the family’s involvement there. Pettit’s parents, Richard and Dianne, supply 3M products and Interstate Federal and Cathy Denning provide note cards and stationery. 

 

“StoryPeople, where my sister works, they’ve done one every year. Another notable thing is Gary Peterson brings a lot of woodworking. This is the second year he’s made a mantel clock. That’s so generous,” Pettit said. “Irene Riley, from the beginning until she passed away, every year made a hand-knit afghan and she’d put other gifts with it. She’d always pick out a book and maybe hot cocoa or other cozy things.” 

 

Along to those who regularly donate baskets, the fundraiser has many long-time bidders. 

 

“There are people who bid on a basket but don’t end up getting a basket. But, regardless, they make a generous donation at the time of the event,” Pettit said.

 

Books and Baskets is the library’s biggest fundraiser, surpassing even the popular fall book sale. Money helps the library add books to its collection. 

 

“It was called Books and Baskets because, the first couple years, we really tried to have a book in every basket. Now, there’s just a book in a few baskets. In a way, now I think it should be baskets for books because it goes to our collection budget,” Pettit said.

 

In recent years, the library spent a lot of time and portion of its budget purchasing graphic novels and updating its juvenile fiction and young adult fiction.

 

The effort showed. That category of circulation was up in the last annual report, according to Pettit.

 

“It’s sort of like that saying, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ We wanted to have the newest things that would appeal to kids right now,” she said. “We want to continue that and find a way to engage with that age of kids. We also want to build up again our preschool story time. The group we had aged out, so we need to get the word out to parents with younger kids. It makes such a difference having a program for those kids.”

 

Baskets are on display at the McGregor Public Library, located at 334 Main St., and can also be viewed on the “McGregor Public Library” Facebook page. People can bid on baskets in person through this Saturday, Nov. 19. Bidding will close that day at 3 p.m. 

 

“People can also Facebook message and I will get their bids on the sheet. The very last day, I would need to know at least an hour before the end,” Pettit said.

 

The library director is grateful to the organizations and individuals who continue to share their time, creativity and generosity through the Books and Baskets fundraiser.

 

“People make a difference with their kindness and generosity. Sometimes, we have to be reminded of these good people doing good things and really helping the community,” Pettit said. “Now, we just want to see people come in and bid.”

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