“Come one, come all, down to your friendly Los Banos library on Oct. 11.” That’s the message from the Friends of the Los Banos Library as they are preparing a Membership Appreciation Evening and Open House.

On that Wednesday evening, from 7 to 8 p.m., everyone in and around Los Banos is invited to come into the Los Banos Branch of the Merced County Library at 1312 S. Seventh St., near Pacheco Boulevard in Pacheco Park. The Friends will provide free nonalcoholic beverages and snacks for people of all ages.

“This is a time for us to get to know our members,” said Los Banos Friend Blanche Jorge, “as well as to encourage residents in the community to see what a great library we have.”

In past years, before COVID, the Friends of the Los Banos Library sponsored fundraisers to support the library. This year, according to Jorge, who helped plan the event, “The Friends decided simply to host an open house, which we think people will enjoy.”

The committee planning the event, which includes Jorge, Bonnie Lindblom and Mariana Pascuet, are working on some fun things, like pairing a snack (like grapes) with a book (like “The Grapes of Wrath”).

“The open house enables the Friends to thank everyone who is a member of the Friends of the Los Banos Library,” Jorge said, “and to let the community know what a valuable resource the library is.”

The Friends of the Los Banos Library has served as a nonprofit organization since the early 1990s, when reductions in the Merced County budget resulted in a plan to close the branch in Los Banos. Thanks to a lot of work and fundraising, the library stayed open, if only with limited hours, until the county budget for the library improved.

“Over the years,” said Lindblom, Membership Chair of the Friends, “our organization has valued its members, who understand the importance of a local public library. This event will help show our appreciation to them.”

Membership is not costly, just $10 for an individual, $15 for a family, and $25 for a business. “What makes members special,” Lindblom said, “is their willingness to respond to membership requests and take the time to write a check and mail it to the Friends.”

“One of the Los Banos Friends told us why she appreciates our library,” Jorge said. “As she put it, ‘The library is a safe sanctuary to see friends, study, read, relax and have peace of mind.’”

Carolann DeMoss was Wanda the Witch for many years at the Los Banos Library reading to children at Halloween. Gene Lieb/The Express