About Friends

Friends of the Braden River Library, Inc. is a Florida not for profit corporation governed by Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code and Regulations.

Friends of the Braden River Library supports the Braden River Library in fulfilling its role as the community hub of eastern Manatee County, by sponsoring programs designed to add to the cultural life of the community, promote literacy for children and adults, and assist the Staff in providing funds for materials and training as needed.

Here’s some history on Friends and the beginnings of the Braden River Branch:

Before 1989, residents from the eastern part of the county had to travel far to use either the South Manatee or Central Libraries.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of a group of library supporters, what was once land used by the Sheriff to corral stolen cattle, became the site of the new library.

Friends of the Braden River Library, led by Ilene Denton 1989 – 1991, Cynthia Gardstein-Lepp 1992 – 1994, and Ann Peabody 1995 – 2000, ceaselessly lobbied and fundraised, and encouraged Manatee County to provide funding from property taxes.

The County also successfully applied for and obtained a $400,000.00 construction grant from the state of Florida.

The initial facility opened in a 1,500 square foot double-wide trailer along State Road 70 in 1989. It was an immediate success and served for nearly eight years until the permanent building of 15,000 square feet and approximately 18,500 books and other materials opened in June of 1997, and the trailer was moved to Myakka for use as a child-care building. The new building rapidly outgrew its capacity as eastern Manatee County experienced a tremendous amount of growth that continues to this day.


Friends of the Braden River Library never ceased in their efforts to promote enlarging the library and continued to fundraise, primarily with used book sales.  We also have created a Book Nook in the Library where books can be purchased very inexpensively.  When local funding was available to build the addition to the original library and renovate the existing structure, the Friends were happy to contribute approximately $60,000.00 to pay for the matching new carpet and its installation in the original library.

The larger and newly renovated library re-opened in 2021.  The Friends continue to support the Braden River Library and now participate in the Sarasota Community Foundation Giving Challenge as well as producing two large used book sales each year in order to be prepared to help out financially when needed.  After more than three decades, Friends of the Braden River Library are still going strong.