Despite the combination of low public funding and the advent of the digital age, the Benicia Library, a pinnacle of beauty at the intersection of First and Military, is thriving. Our library’s particular success is due in part to a dedicated group of people—the Friends of the Library—who have raised $900,000 over the past 11 years. Their fundraising efforts are centered on monthly book sales, which take place the second Saturday of each month, 10am to 4pm, downstairs at the library. According to Ron Arrants, who has been the chair of the book sale committee since 1996, proceeds have grown from about $1,000 per year to over $60,000 per year. Next year they are hoping to top the million-dollar mark. Books come mostly from estate sales and personal library downsizing, and are sorted and arranged into categories by volunteers (currently 31 strong). All proceeds go directly to the library. Library Director Diane Smikahl says, “These generous donations have been used for a variety of purposes over the years, and often are used to fund programs (summer reading programs, children's and teen programs, programs run by the Poet Laureate, etc.), and for miscellaneous things that substantially improve our library. Years ago, when the current library was new, staff realized that the building was a little stark and the Friends stepped in to help provide a plant service, which makes the library much more friendly and inviting.”

There are about 350 Friends members currently, who also help get the message out about the value of the library, and, according to Smikahl, “along with the Board of Library Trustees, are able to provide a conduit for public comment and public input that helps keep our services relevant to our community.” The Friends are currently seeking new sources of book donations and a newsletter editor for their quarterly membership. For more information, visit or call 707.746.4343