Mini-golf draws crowd to Johnstown library

JOHNSTOWN – Golf balls and gift baskets were in heavy circulation at the Johnstown Public Library on Saturday, as the Friends of the Library and its trustees and staff conducted their annual fundraiser.

The historic Carnegie library, built in 1902, was transformed for the day into an 18-hole miniature golf course, complete with challenging obstacles, multi-level holes, and a 19th hole with snacks for sale.

Family activities took place in the library’s basement, including face-painting and live music. More than 50 large, themed baskets were raffled off. Baskets were donated by individuals, businesses and organizations in the community.

“The event serves a dual purpose, to raise funds for the library and to get more people into the library to see what we have to offer,” Library Director Erica Wing said.

Saturday’s event was the library’s 17th annual fundraiser. For the past 14 consecutive years, the fundraiser had been the Storybook Sundae at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. According to Wing, due to the college’s recent renovation project, which changed the layout of the College Union, the library decided to change the event to something new and especially family-friendly, at the library.

“By bringing people in for mini-golf, I hope this will generate renewed interest in the library,” Wing said.

Lisa Swedick was at the library with her family.

“We’ve always supported the library and have gone to their fundraisers,” she said.

Julie Garnet was also playing the course with her family.

“We thought the course was awesome and fun,” Garnet said. “We also love the baskets.”

“It was really put together,” said Garnet’s son, Keegan Garnet.

Garnet said he sometimes plays miniature golf, but never indoors, especially not in libraries.

Russ Bolton, owner of Library Mini-Golf, which provided the equipment, said he put up the course in less than two and a half hours with the help of volunteers.

“Since we started this business, we raised over $1 million for libraries,” Bolton said.

He said the Connecticut-based company’s genesis was a “total fluke”: A?few friends got together to come up with a fundraising idea for a badly damaged library right after Hurricane Katrina, and the idea came for a “Gulf” event. Due to a misinterpretation, a “golf” event was decided upon. Since it was winter, however, the idea came to them to create and organize an indoor miniature golf course at a library.

“Libraries are conducive to miniature golf because we can incorporate stacks of books by maneuvering the tracks around them,” Bolton said. “This is totally new to the public, and kids have a lot of fun.”