By Angela Higginbotham
Growing up in Texas, Sue Giddings and her family were regular visitors at the library; she developed a love of reading and learning early on. Even today, she insists that libraries are a powersource for so many people. Giddings devotes much of her time to Friends of the South Mandarin Library, a group of volunteers with the mission of raising funds to help with improvements within the South Mandarin Library.
Giddings attended Texas Woman’s University for nursing. She then joined the United States Navy to serve her country and also to help pay for her tuition. Gidding soon found herself in the middle of the Vietnam War. While still in the Navy, after witnessing a lot of war and traveling a great deal, she met her husband, Jack. In 1970, the two were married in Orlando.
Giddings retired from nursing in 2007. She and Jack, a family physician, have one son who teaches college history.
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Mandarin?
A: I enjoy seeing all the wildlife that makes Mandarin so special. I love being serenaded by the birds and seeing young hawks in the area.
Q: How did you become involved with Friends of the South Mandarin Library and what does the group do?
A: After retiring, I was looking for things to do and came across the group. Significant cuts came to library funding and we started trying to help. We resell donated books. With the proceeds from the books, we have bought things like a refrigerator, so that the kids can use yogurt for finger painting. We are currenting waiting on the new couch for the youth/teen section. We’ve made several large and impactful improvements to help the library be of better service to the community. We have two sales a year and one ongoing sale inside the library. We also sell records, audio books and encyclopedias. One young reader bought a whole set of encyclopedias and thought he had really struck gold. All proceeds go directly back to the library. Anyone can join the group and help support the library.
Q: Where does your passion for the library come from?
A: I just know that the library fills a need for so many people. For reading, learning and exploring. People go there to do things they need to do on the internet. People go there to vote. It really does fill an important function.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when not volunteering with Friends of the South?
A: Reading. I’m in a couple of book clubs. We always say that we are willing to solve all the problems of the world, but haven’t had the right person listening yet. I read everything. There are places I’ll probably never be able to physically travel to, but I can go by opening a book. I like gardening. My husband has a passion for palm trees. He’s also a great cook, so I go to the gym every morning. With him still working, it keeps us involved with community functions. We also enjoy spending time with our son and his family. Our granddaughter, Olivia, is four.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I’m probably an open book most of the time. I do enjoy all kinds of music. Folk music is fascinating. I’ve recently started listening to African music. Jazz, all of it. You can be transported by Beethoven.
Photo courtesy G. Corbin