story and photos by Ruby Dean
What could be more fun than dressing up, fine dining, a silent auction, and playing bingo?
The 5th annual Black Tie Bingo was held Saturday (Nov. 10) to raise money for the Fort Smith Library Endowment Trust. Approximately 150 guests came dressed up in formal attire to support the library and enjoy conversation with friends and games of bingo.
The Black Tie Bingo is the largest fundraiser for the library's Endowment Trust, a foundation established to help provide long-term support and prosperity for the library system.
Georgianna Yerton said the funds from last year's events helped support Dewey's Cafe, Christmas lights for all three library branches in Fort Smith and more author visits.
"A library can exist, but cannot excel without the support of the community. Last year's event raised $51,000 and we are expecting another great year this year,” Yerton told the crowd.
Jennifer Goodson, library director, said “the libraries are as busy as ever," and shared a few library statistics with the guests. The stats included:
• In 2011, the library recorded 445,000 visits;
• The library saw 518,000 pieces of material checked out in 2011; more than 10,000 of these items were from the very popular Library2Go eBook service;
• More than 5600 people applied for a library card in 2011;
• More than 24,000 people attended a meeting in one of the free meeting rooms;
• Reference questions asked to the staff were more than 250,000 questions in 2011; and,
• Computer use is still a very important service at the library. More than 367,000 computer sessions were held last year, an increase of more than 41%.
Goodson said the computer use is related to the tough economy and the higher number of unemployed in the area.
“They don’t have a computer at home. … And the only Internet they have is on their cell phone. For many jobs these days, you have to apply online. The library is making a difference in our community. Our statistics is a good indication of that, but we know that even more from one-on-one conversations with our customers,” Goodson explained.
Hors d'oeuvres, wine and an open bar started at 7 p.m., followed by a formal dinner. While guests dined on a formal multi-course gourmet dinner which started off with potato soup, fresh fruit sorbet, Caesar salad with parmesan basket followed by the main course of beef medallions with red wine artichoke mushroom sauce on wild rice and grilled vegetables, Jonathan Karrant and The Don Bailey Jazz Ensemble performed live music and guests took part in the silent auction. Berry chocolate cake ended the meal.
After dinner, guests readied their bingo cards and daubers. KFSM 5 News anchor Daren Bobb served as master of ceremonies for the event. Games of regular bingo and variations of the game began. Once the silent auction was over, guests were served coffee, liqueurs, and après at Dewey's Café. Winners picked up their purchases on their way out.