Celebrating Women’s History Month – Susan Sosin: Library Friend Extraordinaire
by Tracy Wasserman, Senior Assistant, INALJ Florida
Susan Sosin’s volunteer work for libraries and other community organizations is an important part of her life. From an early age growing up in Highland Park, New Jersey, Susan learned the significance and impact of volunteering her time and energy to improve people’s lives from her parents, who were both active volunteers for many organizations. Susan believes volunteers can be inspired, and inspire others, by being active in something they care about. For Susan, her inspiration comes from libraries and her community.
Susan has been serving on the Board of the Friends of the Boca Raton Public Library in Boca Raton, Florida for the past 11 years. During that time, the Friends group has grown from a small group of residents interested in supporting local library events and existing on membership fees and donations, to a robust organization that generates a large portion of its income from its thriving used book store comprised of an inventory of books donated by local residents. The Boca Raton Public Library System, too, has expanded, in large part due to the voices and support of Friends members and other civic-minded residents, to include a second library on the western boundary of Boca Raton with an art gallery managed by the Friends, and, during Susan’s tenure as President of the Friends, a new and expanded downtown library, built in 2013 to replace the 50-year old former library building. The Friends contributed $250,000 to the building of the new library, securing a larger space for its bookstore, and a Friends community room for the staging of its many popular events, including a speaker series, a foreign film series, a music series, and exhibitions by local artists in its art gallery. Most Friends programs, free to the public, are standing-room only events at the two libraries, now coveted venues by local speakers and performers, fully booked sometimes a year in advance.
Susan’s vision for what one can accomplish in support of libraries began in the early 1970s in New Jersey, when she chaired a book and author luncheon for a local chapter of Brandeis University’s National Women’s Committee, which supports the university’s libraries. The author was former CBS news anchor Dan Rather, and author of The Palace Guard: Behind the Scenes Account of the Nixon Administration Prior to Watergate. From that successful fund-raising event, Susan spearheaded many other endeavors to raise funds and awareness of libraries, from collecting recipes for cookbooks to sell or give as incentives to library supporters, to organizing youth programs such as summer reading kick-off parties and other youth services events, a particular focus of hers in light of the Master’s Degree in Early Children Education which she earned in 1967 in New Jersey.
Susan’s behind-the-scenes work for the libraries of Boca Raton, Florida has contributed greatly to the structure and subsequent success of the library Friends group. One of her first actions as a Board member was to re-write the bare-bones Bylaws of the organization, to include a mission statement, officer election guidelines, and incorporate her belief that every Board member should have a core responsibility essential to the organization, to enforce the investment of their time and energy in something they believe in. She has attended many city council meetings during her 11 years on the Board, from lending a voice and following closely the push to build the new library, to voicing support to increase budgeting funding for library programs and staff.
Susan is also a leader in the Boca Raton community itself, serving as a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) team leader, comprised of residents trained to be first responders in disaster situations such as hurricanes that may impact the area, when emergency response agencies might not be readily available. She has served on the Board of her homeowners association for 23 years, on the public School Advisory Council during the years her two sons were in middle and high school, and was one of the founders of a local women’s chapter of NAIC (National Association of Investment Companies) which was active for 17 years. She has lived in Boca Raton for over 35 years, and when not actively supporting the community, has traveled with her well-known author husband, Mark Sosin, of sports fishing fame, all over the world, photographing his exploits for his books and newspaper and magazine articles, and producing his former national sports fishing television program. The Friends of the Boca Raton Public Library are fortunate to have such a passionate and dedicated volunteer member in their organization, a behind-the-scenes mover and shaker, who has and continues to contribute a forward vision and energy to its mission to enhance community cultural life by promoting and encouraging a love of literature and the arts.