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Nancy Powell, left, special projects coordinator for the Friends of the Albany Public Library, and LaRee Dominguez, library resources coordinator, hope two donated sculptures, foreground, will boost interest and revenue at a wine tasting and silent auction on Saturday.

For its silent auction, the Friends of the Albany Public Library usually receives donations such as vacations at the Oregon Coast, dinners at fine restaurants and even $100 bottles of wine.

But the organization never has received a gift remotely close to this.

The estate of Marie “Scotte” Mascotte, a local library patron, donated two 19th century French bronze sculptures — and the bidding starts at $2,000 on each statue on Saturday.

Mascotte, who died in December, had a lifelong love of reading and a huge collection of books, said her life-partner of 30-plus years, Marsha Swanson. About 1,500 of Mascotte’s paperbacks also were donated to the library.

“Books were really important to her, and I think the fact that the library opens up a whole world to children … That was a huge thing for her, and for me, too,” Swanson added.

Proceeds from the silent auction will benefit children’s library programs and services and also be used to purchase books and other materials for young readers.

The silent auction will take place during the third annual Library Uncorked, a wine-tasting event held from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Albany Public Library, 2450 14th Ave. S.E.

If the minimum bids on the statues aren’t met, they will be taken to a major art auction house, said Nancy Powell, the Friends of the Library’s special projects coordinator.

She added that the value of the sculptures, cast by Ferdinand Barbedienne, would be somewhere between $6,000 to $8,000.

One of the statues is titled “Artemis von Gabii,” while the other is named “Diana the Huntress,” Powell said. Both are about two-feet tall.

Barbedienne’s foundry at first made smaller reproductions of Greek and Roman statues that were popular in museums, then gained living artists as clients in the mid-1800s, according to various online sources.

According to Wikipedia, Barbedienne’s reproductions made art more available to the public.

Mascotte’s family purchased the statues while on vacation in France in the 1950s, roughly about the same time as Barbedienne’s descendants closed the foundry.

“We’re really proud that she thought enough of our library to donate them,” Powell said.

“I think it’s fabulous. It’s very generous,” said LaRee Dominguez, resources coordinator for the Albany Public Library.

Swanson said that the gift was really from Mascotte’s entire family, as her remaining siblings agreed to the donation.

The Friends of the Library raises more than $25,000 each year for the Albany Public Library. An annual book sale held at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center in November usually brings in more than $5,000, while used bookstores inside the main library and the downtown Carnegie library combine to make about $1,000 each month, Powell said.

Last year, the silent auction brought in $10,000.

“If we did $15,000 this year, I’d be really excited,” Powell said.

Ed Gallagher, library director, said that the city of Albany’s operating budget has barely kept up with costs in recent years.

“At the library, we are pretty desperate to find funding for the purchase of materials. The Friends’ work is critical,” he added, calling the group “big important partners for keeping us afloat.”

Tickets to Library Uncorked are $25, and attendees receive a free wine glass, five tasting tickets, and an entry to win the grand prize drawing, which is a two-night stay at the Overleaf Lodge in Yachats.

Tickets are available at both libraries and at Browsers’ Bookstore, and the event is capped at 200 people due to fire code.

The evening also will include appetizers to accompany the wine tasting, jazz music and more.

There are more than 50 silent auction items and more donations are coming in, Powell said.

For more information, contact Nancy Powell at 541-928-4400 or nnpowell@comcast.net.

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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