Started in 1997, the Friends of the Porter Henderson Library and West Texas Collection organization is made up of volunteers who perform various services for the two entities, including providing memorial books for the library and helping acquire items of historical significance for the WTC. Longtime ASU supporter Betty (B.J.) Mayer was on the original Friends board and is the current president.
“Sometimes, universities are judged by their libraries and their collections,” Mayer said, “and I believe it helps ASU to have an archive of the history of West Texas available to students and to other people for future uses. Being in on the ground floor of this endeavor, I have watched the collections grow and have enjoyed the history lessons they each bring.”
“We also help the students in many ways,” she continued. “We have various events, like our book sale, and raise money to provide scholarships. Our purpose is to support the students and help acquire new collections to add to the West Texas Collection.”
The Friends’ fundraising efforts annually fund four ASU student scholarships, expansion of the WTC collections on the second floor of the Houston Harte University Center and other student activities.
In an effort to maintain and possibly even increase their support of the library and WTC, the Friends group is now actively recruiting new members. The Basic membership package is $30 per person or $50 per couple and includes ASU library privileges, a semi-annual newsletter, announcements of events and ASU’s annual publication. Three higher membership levels include additional benefits. To join, contact the WTC at 325-942-2164 or write to The Friends of the Library, ASU Station #11013, San Angelo, Texas, 76909.
Friends membership chair Linda Knightstep is not a native Texan, having moved to West Texas from New York, but she quickly saw the value of the Friends organization.
“One of the things I discovered right away was not only the pride of Texas,” she said, “but also that history is a legacy for which we have a responsibility. The West Texas Collection taught me that. Suzanne Campbell, the WTC director, introduced me to the Friends organization, and it’s a great thing.”
“Not only do we support our history and who we are now,” she continued, “we take a look at the people who developed this land of ours, and we should be very proud of that. Even if you are an adopted Texan, you still need to have that pride and bring it forth to the younger generations.”
In 2012, the Friends started a WTC endowment with the short- and long-term goals of procuring and preserving the history of the people who populated the West Texas area. Ultimately, they hope to build the endowment to the point it can help fund a new facility for all the ASU campus collections and provide a more appropriate access to the WTC.
“My husband and I gave our family memorabilia to the West Texas Collection,” Mayer said, “and we continue to support it. My dream is to have a building on campus that will hold historical collections, scientific collections, art collections and an exhibit hall for traveling exhibits – a ‘mini museum open to the public.’ Many universities have this, and I wish that for ASU.”
To make it happen, they are counting on a little more help from their friends.